Apple’s iPhone “kill switch” feature is apparently making would-be thieves think twice.
The switch locks up iPhones running iOS 7 unless the authorized user is there to unlock it — preventing thieves from being able to wipe over or re-purpose stolen phones by doing a factory reset. And a new report makes the case that the kill switch has dramatically reduced iPhone-related crime.
Following Apple’s lead, Google said in a statement to Bloomberg that it would implement a “factory reset protection solution” in the next major version of Android, expected to be revealed at Google I/O next week.
Microsoft said Windows Phone would also be getting theft-deterrent features in an upcoming software update, and Samsung introduced its own kill switch this past April.
iOS 7, which includes the kill switch feature, was released in September 2013.
iPhone users can make sure their kill switch is enabled by tapping on settings, then iCloud, followed by “Find my iPhone.” If the slider is set to on, users will be able to lock the phone and erase data remotely.
The attorneys general and other officials who are a part of the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative are pushing for kill switches to be an automatically enabled feature.
Windows Phone 8 will have several theft-deterrent features by July 2015, Microsoft says, pending various approval procedures. Those features will let users erase data remotely, just like the iPhone’s kill switch, and will only allow the phone to call 911. Only authorized users will be able to reactivate it.
Kill switches are fast becoming a legal requirement. The Minnesota government last month became the first state to require them in smartphones sold there. The requirement will go into effect next July.