This Android update may stop your phone being stolen

Google's latest Android update has an anti-theft feature, which could make stolen phones useless to thieves.

The feature, called "Device Protection," acts as a kill switch on devices with the Android 5.1 operating system. If a phone is lost or stolen, it will remain locked until the owner signs in with their Google account – even if someone resets the device to factory settings.

Device Protection is Google's answer to Apple's "Activation Lock," which requires an Apple ID to reactive the device.


Google said its anti-theft feature would be available on "most" Android phones and tablets shipped with version 5.1, in addition to the Motorola Nexus 6 and HTC Nexus 9 smartphones.

Apple's Activation Lock has been credited with reducing iPhone thefts in major cities. In the first five months of 2014, shortly after Apple introduced Activation Lock, the theft of Apple devices fell by 17 percent in New York City, according to a report by the Office of the New York State Attorney General last year.

There was also a fall in iPhone thefts recorded in London and San Francisco, and Google is hoping its anti-theft feature will have similar results for Android devices.

Google has also released a number of other features with its operating system update, including the ability to use more than one SIM card on a device with multiple SIM slots and high-definition voice calling between compatible Android 5.1 devices on T-Mobile or Verizon in the U.S.