Google unveils AI features to combat Brazil’s phone theft epidemic

  • Google introduces AI anti-theft features for Android in Brazil.
  • New features include private app spaces and remote data blocking.
  • Brazil reports nearly two mobile phone thefts per minute.
  • Pilot phase begins in July with global rollout planned later.

OUR TAKE
If only this technology had been available sooner, I wouldn’t have lost my last Phone 15 Pro Max which I used just for half a month. It still breaks my heart. Google’s initiative is a promising step towards reducing phone theft, but it’s just one part of a broader solution needed to address this pervasive problem.

–Dudu, BTW Reporter

Google has chosen Brazil, a country plagued by rampant mobile phone theft, to pilot its latest AI-driven anti-theft features for Android smartphones, aiming to enhance device security and protect users from the rising tide of thefts.

Google’s AI initiative in Brazil

Google has announced it will test new AI-powered anti-theft features for Android smartphones in Brazil, a country where nearly two mobile phones are stolen every minute. Brazilian users will be the first to access these features, which include a private space for sensitive apps protected by a separate PIN, and automatic screen locking triggered by sudden movements indicative of theft.

Also read: Revolut’s latest biometric innovation: A shield against phone theft

Enhanced security measures

The new features also allow users to block access to their device data remotely using just their phone number, bypassing the need for a password. Google noted that feedback from Brazilian users inspired these enhancements, and the pilot programme will commence in July, with plans for a broader rollout later this year.

Also read: What happens to your information after a data breach?

Rising theft concerns

According to the Brazil Forum on Public Safety, nearly one million mobile phone thefts were reported in the country in 2022, marking an increase of 16.6% from the previous year. The problem is especially severe in major cities like Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, highlighting the urgent need for effective security solutions.

Opinions on Google’s move

Google’s initiative comes as a much-needed response to Brazil’s escalating phone theft crisis. The ability to hide sensitive apps and lock devices remotely provides a significant upgrade in user security. However, some users might find the need to use a separate PIN for app access cumbersome. Moreover, the success of these features will largely depend on their accuracy and reliability in real-world scenarios.

Apple’s earlier launch of an anti-theft system for iOS devices in January indicates a growing focus on mobile security among tech giants. This competitive dynamic is likely to drive further innovations, benefiting consumers with enhanced safety measures. Yet, it’s crucial to remember that technology alone cannot solve the underlying socio-economic issues contributing to high theft rates.

Doris-Du

Doris Du

Doris Du is an intern reporter at BTW Media. She graduated with a master's degree in Translating and Interpreting from The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Send tips to d.du@btw.media.

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