It seems like a fairly simple feature, and one that slipped past most people when Android 5.1 started rolling out: Device Protection. According to Google, if your phone is lost or stolen, when this feature is enabled you’ll need to log in with your Google account to unlock it. That’s a good thing, but in the past it was fairly easy to circumvent any type of security by factory resetting the device. Data was fairly secure, but the device could then be used (or sold) by the thief (or “finder”).
Now, thanks to the Lollipop 5.1 update, on supported devices, factory resetting is protected by an additional layer of security – as long as you’ve pre-configured it! This new feature will come set as a default setting on the Nexus 6 and Nexus 9, but Google promises it will be “installed” at the time most new Android-powered phones and tablet ship.
If you’ve got Android 5.1 on your device and want to make sure you’ve got the added layer of protection on your smartphone or tablet, the steps are painfully simple!
- Open your device Settings
- Tap Security
- Set up a Screen lock method (PIN, Pattern, or Password – “None” and Swipe won’t work, and may be grayed out)
- Choose “Require PIN to start device” (or “Pattern” or “Password”, depending on your choice in step 3)
- That’s it!
Your device is now protected – even against a factory reset!
If you don’t want to go through the “inconvenience” of entering a PIN, password, or pattern every time you unlock your device, try enabling Smart Lock. Currently my Nexus 6 will automatically unlock itself whenever I’m in my car (connected to the handsfree kit via Bluetooth), whenever I’m wearing my Moto 360 (connected by Bluetooth), wearing my Bluetooth headset, or connected to my Bluetooth headset. You can also set up Smart Lock to work with NFC tags, add a Trusted face for biometric-like authentication, or even keep your device unlocked while it thinks it’s still on your body but lock when you set it down on your desk (or a bar).
If your device can run Android 5.1, it’s worth your while to get the upgrade, and setup one of locking methods that will provide you with anti-theft Device Protection.