Android rolls out 'on-body' smart lock to foil device thieves

Google's mobile operating system adds a function that brings up your device's lock screen when the accelerometer senses you've set the gadget down, according to a report.

A reported on-body detection feature will lock your phone when you set it down, so thieves who swipe it can't access your data as easily. Nicole Cozma/CNET

Google is rolling out a new automatic "smart lock" function that uses your mobile device's accelerometer to determine when you set the gadget down, to possibly protect your data better if your device is stolen.

According to a report on Android Police, the new mode is called on-body detection. It keeps your device unlocked while it's on you, such as if you're holding it in your hand or carrying it in your pocket. Whenever you set your device down, it locks. The feature means data won't be as readily accessible to thieves who target a device that's been left behind, dropped or set aside temporarily.

Google has added smart-locking features to its Android mobile operating system before. With Android version 5.0 Lollipop , mobile gadgets could detect when a trusted Bluetooth device or a near-field-communication tag was in range and disable the security lock for you.

Google didn't immediately respond to a message to confirm the new feature.

On-body detection doesn't mean your phone understands when it's being cradled by its owner. The device will remain locked when you pick it back up. And if you pass an unlocked phone over to another person it remains unlocked.

Android Police said the feature was first noticed on a Nexus 4 still running Android 5.0.1. Though the feature appears to be rolling out slowly at first, it seems to be cropping up on many devices, including most Nexuses.

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