Mobile kingpins embark in fight against smartphone theft
Even though technology has advanced tremendously in recent times, smartphone theft or loss continues to be an area which has received little attention from the big players in the industry. And, it is not difficult to see why, as they stand to profit from people's misfortune or mistakes.
While we can track smartphones and delete any personal data remotely, most handsets do not have a kill switch, which means the people who stole or found a handset may be able to use it freely. However, that is set to change, as CTIA has revealed top players in the mobile industry have, finally, decided to fight on behalf of consumers, by employing countermeasures.
The companies that have signed this agreement are Apple, Asurion, AT&T, Google, HTC, Huawei, Motorola, Microsoft, Nokia, Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular and Verizon. They have vowed to include "a baseline anti-theft tool", for free, in smartphones that will be offered for sale, at retail, starting July 2015.
The tool can be either pre-installed or readily available to download. And the four largest mobile operators in US will not stand in the way. This is good news, as the agreement covers Android, iOS and Windows Phone smartphones, which make up more than 90 percent of the US market.
The anti-theft tool gives users the ability to erase personal data remotely, will limit functionality solely to emergency calls (and, if the user chooses, specific numbers), prevent the smartphone from being reactivated without the user's consent (which probably kicks in after the data is erased, like Apple does with the iPhone 5s), and, finally, allow users who have initiated the process, to regain control after recovering their smartphones.
Some of these features resemble what Apple is doing with the iPhone 5s. There is no word yet on whether this tool will be available outside of US, come launch time. But, there is no reason, at least in the case of mobile operator-unlocked smartphones, why it should not be offered.