On Comet, On Cupid, On-Body, On Blitzen

Hold your horses, or in this case reindeer, because it’s not quite time for Santa Clause to be coming to town. But our favorite Internet and technology elves (aka geniuses) at Google have been hard at work on something special down in Silicon Valley for Android users.

Android icon

Google’s Android icon from the company press kit

Google’s working on rolling out a new smart lock mode, coined “on-body,” that will leave your phone unlocked when the accelerometer recognizes the phone is in your hand, pocket, purse, or anywhere on your person. When the phone’s sensors detect the phone has been set down, it will lock the screen and you have to manually unlock is (which is such a hassle).

The idea behind on-body is that if you leave your phone sitting on a table somewhere – say, at Starbucks when your drink is ready – then potential thieves can’t steal it and easily access your data. Why you are leaving your phone unattended on the table and walking away is beyond us; you might as well just give it to a stranger on the street and hope for the best. Still, if local coffee shop thieves stealing your phone and accessing your data keeps you up at night, you can rest easy knowing on-body is here to save your day.

Unfortunately, it’s not a foolproof solution. On-body will continue to keep your phone unlocked as long as the accelerometer detects it is being held or carried. So if you pass your phone off to a friend or someone snatches it out of your hand, the phone has no way of knowing whether it’s in your hand or not. If that’s the case, your phone will remain unlocked and your data is accessible to whomever is holding the phone until they set it down, which is bad news bears for you.

Of course, you have the option of pairing on-body with the other smart lock features such as trusted face and trusted places to better your phone’s security, so all hope is not lost.

Author: Lauren Dries

Lauren is a Journalism student at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. She's fascinated by the continually developing tech industry and has an unhealthy appreciation for pop-cultural references.

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