In the latest move to protect our smartphones from theft, Android and Windows Phone handsets are set to adopt ‘kill switches’, which will effectively make phones completely useless if activated.
iPhone users who have the latest version of iOS have had a kill switch since September 2013, introduced as one of the less flashy features of the software update.
Research has found that global thefts of iPhones have since dropped dramatically, whilst thefts of other styles of handsets have actually risen, meaning the kill switch feature is proving a worthwhile investment for Apple users.
The technology comes into play after a phone has been lost or stolen by its user; letting them permanantly delete any data on the handset and then disable it altogether, turning it into nothing more than a paperweight.
The software also allows users to add extra passwords and security to make things harder for thieves who want access to data, or for those who look to delete data themselves to re-sell the handset.
Apple users have had access to the Find My iPhone app for a long time now as well, which allows users to track their Apple goods whenever they are connected to the internet, and even display messages or play sounds through the missing device.
Now it looks as if we could be seeing similar technology on all of our Windows Phone and Android devices, making smartphone theft even harder for criminals.
Google has promised to include the feature in its next Android update, which is expected this autumn, whilst Windows Phone users sporting software version 8.0 will be receiving an update with the feature in the near future.
Samsung has already tackled the issue of theft on some of its Galaxy models by allowing users to lock their handsets remotely if lost, and by including Samsung Knox, a feature that protects data from prying eyes.
But with this latest upgrade, the three most popular operating systems will now be protected from theft, meaning users of BlackBerry powered phones or feature phones should probably stay a bit more aware of their less protected devices.
The market for these less successful phones though is of much smaller value to potential thieves, meaning mobile robberies will most likely drop to a far lower scale in the grand scheme of things.
Of course, this doesn’t mean smartphone users should start flashing their expensive handsets everywhere they go, as thieves could still sell the phone for parts online.
This black market business that isn’t exactly the most profitable, but is looking like the only viable option for thieves with this kill switch feature becoming prevalent across the UK in the coming months.
It’s not yet known if other operating systems like BlackBerry will be integrating the feature during its next update, but it wouldn’t be a surprise to see it make an appearance sooner rather than later considering the major upside it has by protecting its users.
Written by Luke Hatfield