These Upcoming Android Features Aim to Help Keep Your Device and Data Safe

These security features will be available later this year.

Zachary McAuliffe Staff writer
Zach began writing for CNET in November, 2021 after writing for a broadcast news station in his hometown, Cincinnati, for five years. You can usually find him reading and drinking coffee or watching a TV series with his wife and their dog.
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Zachary McAuliffe
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A day after Google announced that its Gemini AI would be coming to many of its apps, the tech giant unveiled seven new Android security features. Some of the latest security features include additional protections against someone resetting your device to its factory settings, and automatically locking your screen when your device is snatched from your hands.

"We're committed to keeping your device and data secure on Android," Suzanne Frey, vice president of product at Google, said in a blog post. "We're constantly developing new protections to help keep your device and your data safe."

Watch this: Android 15: See New Features in Action

Here are the new Android security features and what to know about them. Note that these security features will be available later this year through either Google Play services updates for devices running Android 10 Plus or as part of Android 15.

Factory reset prevention upgrade

Android robot popping out of an android phone with the number 15 tiled on a gradient green background
Viva Tung/CNET

If your device is stolen, a thief might reset it to the factory settings in order to sell it. But with Android 15, if someone forces a factory reset on your device, they must also know your phone's credentials or Google account information in order to log back in. Without either of these, your phone can't be set up again after a reset. Factory reset prevention essentially bricks your phone to everyone except you. 

Hide sensitive apps with private space

According to the American Bankers Association, about half of all people use their phones to access their banking information. And if your phone is stolen, that information could be in danger. So, to help put another layer of protection over this sensitive data, your Android device will soon have a separate on-device area where you can lock these sensitive apps with a distinct PIN. That means someone would need two different PINs -- one to unlock your screen and one to unlock this private space -- to access this data. Just please don't make these PINs the same. Hopefully there's a mitigation in place to stop folks from using identical PINs for both personal and private spaces.

Theft Detection Lock

According to the FCC, about 11% of stolen phones are taken directly from a person, such as pickpocketed or snatched out of someone's hands. Android devices will soon have Theft Detection Lock, which will use Google AI to detect when your phone is snatched from your hands. Once your phone detects this, it will automatically put a layer of security between the thief and your data by locking your screen. 

Biometric authentication required to change certain settings

To turn off Find My Device, you will need to enter additional biometric authentication

Google is taking a page out of Apple's playbook with this setting. A new Android security feature coming to your phone later this year will require you to enter your biometric information in order to access or change certain settings, like changing your PIN, accessing passkeys or disabling theft protection. Android's biometric authentication is similar to Apple's Stolen Device Protection, which requires additional biometric authentication to change certain iPhone settings. 

Additional steps to change certain settings

Soon, if you want to disable Find My Device or extend your screen timeout, you'll need to enter your PIN, password or biometric information again. While it might be annoying to enter this information again, it could help you find your device if it falls into the wrong hands.

Offline Device Lock

If someone steals your phone and tries to take it off the grid for extended periods of time, your phone's screen will still automatically lock, thanks to Offline Device Lock. And failing to authenticate on your device a certain number of times also triggers Offline Device Lock. 

Remote Lock

Remote Lock feature on an Android phone

If your Android is stolen, Find My Device already lets you remotely lock or wipe your device by entering your Google account password. But if you can't quickly remember this password, don't worry. Remote Lock lets you lock your screen from any other device by entering your phone number and a security challenge, like, "What was the name of your first pet?" This should give you enough time to recover your account details and remotely wipe your phone. 

Again, these features won't be available until later this year through either Google Play services updates for devices running Android 10 or earlier, or as part of Android 15.

For more on Google, here's what to know about the upcoming Gemini virtual assistant on your Android, what to know about Google's Project Astra and the new AI features coming to your Gmail account.