Kill switches coming to Android, Windows phones

(RioPatuca/Shutterstock.com)

(RioPatuca/Shutterstock.com)

Relaxnews

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

Following Apple's lead, a system for shutting down and wiping the contents of a handset will soon be standard on all phones.

The idea is that when the kill switch is activated, a handset becomes worthless. It no longer functions as a phone or a tablet and none of the information stored on it can be accessed as it has been deleted.

In this regard, Apple has been a pioneer in adding features and settings to all of its products -- from notebooks to tablets -- that help reduce the impact if a device is misplaced or stolen. Its Find My Phone app for example, enables users to track their device online and locate it remotely or, in the event of theft, permanently lock the device.

In September, it updated the feature with Activation Lock, which remotely shuts down an iPhone or iPad and wipes its memory, and according to a study by the New York State Attorney General, the new feature has had a dramatic effect on iPhone thefts.

Between January and May 2014, theft of Apple devices dropped by 17 percent, while in San Francisco iPhone thefts dropped by 38 percent in the first six months after Apple launched the feature in September 2013. London also saw a drop in Apple handset thefts of 24 percent over the same period but as a result also reported a rise in the number of thefts of other, non-Apple smartphones.

Despite being the world's leading smartphone operating system, Android has been slow to offer something similar, leading Samsung, Sony and LG to develop and offer their own protection systems.

However, that is all set to change. The Save our Smartphones (SOS) initiative, set up by the New York State Attorney General to raise awareness of the issue and to lobby the US government into making the smartphone kill switch a legal requirement, reported on Thursday that both Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows Phone platforms are being updated and will soon also feature kill switches to protect their customers' devices and the information stored on them.


Videos

Photos