Google and Microsoft today have separately announced they will add theft deterrence tools to their respective mobile platforms in Windows Phone and Android. The commitment comes after many major cities saw significant drops in iPhone thefts during the first few months of this year after Apple added kill switch tools to the iPhone when it introduced iOS 7 last September, reacting to the cries by lawmakers for manufacturers to build tools that would address the increasing problem of smartphone theft.
Related to the announcement, new data released by the Secure Our Smartphones smartphone theft tracking initiative has shown substantial reductions in theft in major cities after Apple implemented its own theft deterrence tools, as high dollar smartphones such as the iPhone are prized by thieves for their value and desirability on the black market, especially for international resale, as the recently implemented national stolen phone blacklist has made a major dent in the domestic resale of stolen devices, especially for GSM carriers AT&T and T-Mobile.
Google has yet to spell out the specifics of its kill switch implementation, as other Android smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung have their own recent kill switch implementation, but Microsoft said it will add a kill switch to all devices running Windows Phone 8 and up in the future. The updated Windows Phone theft deterrence tools will allow owners to remotely wipe personal data from the phone, render the smartphone inoperable, prevent reactivation without the owner’s permission, reverse the kill switch of the phone if the phone is recovered and restore user data if the phone’s data was erased.
These functions will be added to Windows Phone’s Find My Phone tool and Microsoft said it will have the new tools ready before the July 2015 deadline set by the CTIA for implementation. While Google and Microsoft have their own tools for locating smartphones that have been lost or stolen, they do not currently feature any tools for actively disabling the phone other than remote deletion of user data, and otherwise do nothing to prevent unauthorized reactivation.