New Android ‘On Body Detection’ Feature Provides Smarter Device Security

Google has started rolling out a new Smart Lock utility for its Android mobile operating system that uses a phone or tablet’s accelerometer to detect when the device is in its user’s hand or pocket. With this innovative feature, called on-body detection, the tech giant intends to make the lives of frequent mobile users a bit more hassle-free, particularly if they’re always on the move.

What is on-body detection?

As the name suggests, as long as a device is being held or carried by its user, it remains unlocked and can be accessed without the need to re-enter a PIN or password. The moment it is set down, the device will detect the user’s absence and lock itself, requiring a password (or another secure option, depending on the user’s preference) for further operation.

The idea behind the feature is to reduce the number of times users need to unlock their phones or tablets per day, while also preventing potential thieves from acquiring private user data in the event where the device is accidentally misplaced or left lying somewhere.

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An important thing to note is that passing the device on to someone else while it is unlocked will not automatically result in it getting locked. On-body detection isn’t able to recognize its user’s unique identity. It only knows when the device is being held or placed in a pocket, and when it isn’t. Therefore, if convenience is not a priority and security is of the utmost importance, it’s probably better for such users to leave the feature disabled.

What devices are supported?

The new feature is only supported on phones or tablets running Lollipop (Android 5.0 and above), and activating it requires the latest version of Google Play Services. Users who meet these requirements can activate on-body detection from within the Smart Lock menu found under their device’s Security settings.