Android Lollipop is getting an “on-body detection” feature that keeps your phone unlocked in your pocket



If you’re the type of person who hates having to unlock their smartphone each time they take it out of their pocket, Google is working on a feature just for you. It’s called on-body detection, and through the use of the accelerometer it predicts when the phone is in your pocket or hand and will keep it unlocked for easy use the next time you reach for it. Once you set it down on a desk or flat surface, it’ll revert to its normal locked state until the next time you unlock it.

There are several red flags that will immediately come to mind. The biggest question: how can the device tell the difference between you carrying it and someone else carrying it? It can’t, so if the device was unlocked while you were moving and the phone somehow exchanges hands while you’re still moving, it will remain unlocked and any no-gooders will have full access.

As such, this feature actually sacrifices a fair bit of security to give the user a bit more convenience. Whether that convenience is worth the sacrifice is up to you to decide based on your needs, usage pattern and environment (for instance, this wouldn’t be a feature necessary for a work-at-home guy like myself).

You can turn the feature on or off just as easily as anything else, of course, so whether you want to use it is entirely up to you. The feature is said to be headed to Lollipop devices in a very limited manner right now, and it will be distributed through an update to Google Play Services so you won’t have to wait for a firmware update or download anything from Google Play to get it. Any of you going to be using this?

[via The Verge]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

It’s true: you can remove a crap ton of bloatware from the Samsung Galaxy S6

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  1. My screenshots are breaking the internet! Ha!

    1. That’s your screenshot?

      1. Im guessing, looks like the same time stamps as the ones I sent to Android police.

    2. Is there a reason why you went to go turn on your Alarm before taking the next screenshot? =.3

      1. I was re-setting up the phone. I had to factory reset because I was getting the “sleep of death” issues. I was repeatedly checking for the play services update to get “trusted locations” back when I stumbled upon this. I’m guessing that my phone asking for an update to play services at that moment just triggered the update to the most recent, which had that added security feature.

        The feature is pretty useless BTW, I shut it off after playing with it for 10 minutes.

  2. I would give it a shot. I have the bad habit of hitting the power button to lock my device when I am done using it; after a ph call, sending a text, reading a “Phandroid” article,… only to have to unlock my phone again; it is a perpetual cycle. Maybe this would help me break that habit.

    1. Just tell it not to lock by Power button, and set time out for a number of seconds. That’ll do the trick. I had the same issue.

      1. Bingo… didn’t even think of looking in security settings. Done deal and thanks!

    2. I used to use KitKat Cyanogenmod 11’s feature where I made one of the three quick-launch shortcuts the screen off function. It still meant that I had to press the power button on the edge of my phone to turn my screen on on my Nexus 5 but I could just lock it and turn the screen off with a simple gesture after that (even from the lockscreen). With Lollipop I can’t do that from the lockscreen anymore but I can still do it from anywhere else once my phone is unlocked and the screen is on.

  3. Interesting idea. I dig it and it makes sense.

    But say you move around, set it down for a second – at a bar for example – and someone grabs it. It still thinks it is on your body – given it is moving – and so said person has access. So I wonder if you can set how long you want it to be inactive for before it goes into locked mode.

    1. Under Security Automatically lock to Immediately …

  4. Sounds like a bad idea. How does this protect against someone who pick-pockets devices? They’d potentially have an unlocked phone (so long as they didn’t set it down). Not only have they got the device but they’ve potentially also got all the data and private information on it too.

    1. This wouldn’t work for everyone in the same manner that Trusted Face, Devices, or Places works for everyone. For those that it does work for, congrats!

  5. I have it on my Nexus 6 and it works great!

  6. Man, talk about judging. Google hasn’t rolled out the service yet, and people are asking questions about how it works, and why it’s a bad idea. LOL. Let them roll it out, and have the experts take a look at it. I think it would be a very nice service. People are so cynical these days. Sad.

    1. Got it on my T-Mobile M8. Got it turned on and works great.

    2. agreed. there are a million different scenarios that this would “allow” an intruder into your personal files. If you don’t want to take that risk then “don’t turn the feature on” Google isn’t making you use the feature… geez people.
      It would be nice to use this feature at home or work and turn it off when i’m out. but it probably won’t have that fine control.

      (or just get trusted places working again)

  7. Is it just me, or does this sound like a recipe for pocket-dialing people?

    1. No. I leave my phone unlocked. It’s just taking off the security password. I doubt it’ll remove the lock screen. That would suck…

    2. I could see this happening to me with on screen notifications. It could pocket dial, text, etc. any notification. Granted I think I have the proximity sensor tracking my pocket already but it could fail.

    3. I agree. That is the only reason I turned on my lock screen, in order to avoid pocket dialing, texting, etc.

  8. I noticed I already have this on my ATT Nexus 6 and just turned it on. Works as advertised. It is separate from the Lollipop 5.1 OS update.

  9. interesting idea, i think i prefer the trusted devices way though instead, so for example if my smart watch and phone phone become disconnected both the watch and the phone require a password to use.

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