Google and Microsoft have agreed to install killswitch technology into the next version of their Android and Windows Phone operating systems to try and curb the growing theft of smartphones in cities across the world.
The killswitch technology follows pressure from authorities in both the US and the UK, under the Save our Smartphones (SOS) initiative. This was formed in response to the huge rise in the number of thefts of high-end smartphones. The hope is a killswitch will render any theft irrelevant and so curb this growing trend.
The move by Google and Microsoft follows Apple’s inclusion of its Activation Lock in iOS 7, launched in September 2013.
SOS said that since Apple's feature was introduced, robberies of Apple devices fell by 19 percent in the first five months of 2014 in New York. Data in San Francisco and London showed a similar trend, with thefts of Apple devices falling 24 percent.
By contrast in London thefts of Samsung devices, which do not currently have a killswitch, rose by three percent, suggesting thieves moved to target the Android-based devices due to the effect the killswitch from Apple was having.
The hope now is that by bringing similar tools to Google and Microsoft devices will further deter criminals from targeting smartphones.
London mayor Boris Johnson said he was pleased with the commitments from Google and Microsoft, after he added London’s voice to the SOS initiative last year.
“By making the phone manufacturers face up to the responsibility they have to their customers, technology that previously attracted thieves is now being used to deter them," he said. “The SOS has shown that the only solutions to these global problems are ones developed globally, and Londoners and I look forward to further progress as we enter our second year."
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