Google has agreed to back a new initiative along with a host of Android manufacturers and all of the major U.S. cellular carriers that would require all smartphones manufactured after July 2015 to come with specific anti-theft features. The program is the latest attempt to prevent theft of smartphones, which some have blamed for increasing crime rates.
To this end, Google introduced the Android Device Manager application last year, allowing users to locate or wipe lost or stolen devices. Today’s agreement between the carriers and handset manufacturers essentially states that all parties will ship this type of system on new phones.
Specifically, the required anti-theft measures are broken into four kinds:
- A remote-wipe feature (as provided by the Android Device Manager service)
- A remote-lock feature
- A restore-blocking feature that can prevent unauthorized attempts to wipe the phone and use it
- And the ability to restore the original owner’s data upon recovery of the device (as provided by various Android backup applications)
As you can see from the points above, Google’s services still need a bit of work to be in full compliance with the required anti-theft features. Once the features are ready to be put into the hands of customers, they must be included with the phone at the time of purchase, or available for download from the Google Play Store or a similar software market.
The following companies that have agreed to this program, as per the CTIA announcement earlier today:
Apple Inc.; Asurion; AT&T; Google Inc.; HTC America, Inc.; Huawei Device USA;Motorola Mobility LLC; Microsoft Corporation; Nokia, Inc.; Samsung Telecommunications America, L.P.; Sprint Corporation; T-Mobile USA; U.S. Cellular; and Verizon Wireless.
The program is voluntary (for now), though legislators have previously tried to enforce such requirements by law.