Microsoft, Google Chime in With Apple on Smartphone Kill Switch
NEWS ANALYSIS: Did Google and Microsoft really agree to add the switch for the good of their customers, or were they pushed into it by California's pending new law requiring kill switches?The long-awaited and much-demanded cell phone "kill switch" is finally coming. It'll show up in drips and drabs and in fits and starts. It won't be universal. But it'll be here, sort of. For reasons that remain open to speculation, mobile phone makers besides Apple have been reluctant to provide their customers with a means of wiping and deactivating their phones if they're lost or stolen. When Apple announced iOS 7 in 2013, the company included a new feature with the "Find my iPhone" app, which would permanently prevent a thief from activating a stolen iOS 7 device. Of course, the "Find my iPhone" app has more prosaic uses, such as helping you find your device when it falls under your desk or a family member "borrows" it; I use this feature with depressing regularity. All that's required to invoke the Activation Lock is to set up a 4-digit PIN and require it for unlocking the phone. When you set up iOS7, this is done by default. Microsoft will extend the "Find my Phone" app on Windows Phone to have similar capabilities, but there's no clear word on whether this will be backward-compatible with older Windows devices when they're upgraded to a new version of Windows Phone.
Google has likewise announced that new versions of Android would have a similar means of protecting phones; however, few details were available.