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Android gets a smart new security feature from Google

android can now automatically lock itself when you put your phone down body
Image used with permission by copyright holder
If you’ve got a phone running the latest and greatest 5.1 Lollipop version of Android, then you might want to check the security settings menu. Google is rolling out a new type of ‘smart lock’ that protects your phone when you put it down but saves you having to enter your PIN while you’re carrying it.

Called “on-body detection”, it’s been added to the Smart Lock menu for some handsets running the newest Android 5.1 update. Smart Lock can be used to disable the PIN or pattern login method when a recognized location is reached (e.g. your home) or a recognized Bluetooth device is connected (e.g. the stereo in your car).

Now on-body detection gives users a new way of keeping their apps accessible. “Just unlock once and your device stays unlocked as long as you keep holding your device or carry it on you,” says the splash screen for the feature. “Anytime you set your device down, the device locks because it’s no longer on you.”

It’s been reported by some users over at Android Police and I’ve seen it appear on my own Nexus 6. It seems likely that the update arrives as part of Google Play Services, rather than through an OS update, because it’s not yet appearing on all devices running Android 5.1. Google hasn’t made a public announcement so it’s not clear if particular handsets are required to be able to use the feature or whether older phones will get it too.

It looks like the perfect option if you don’t want the hassle of unlocking your phone every two minutes but you still want protections in place if you put your device down somewhere. If Google has anything official to say about the new feature then we’ll add it here.

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David Nield
Dave is a freelance journalist from Manchester in the north-west of England. He's been writing about technology since the…
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