Tech giant Google has announced new security features as part of its second Android 15 beta launch, including theft protection that can detect if your smartphone is snatched.

Google has come up with three ways Android’s new features can help protect your data before, during and after a theft -- improved device and data protection to deter theft, automatic protection when a phone is stolen, and locking the device as a phone is stolen.

To improve device and data protection to deter thefts, Google says its new features will make thieves "think twice" about trying. Its factory reset upgrade feature makes it more difficult for thieves to bypass Android’s factory reset protection. "If a thief forces a reset of the stolen device, they’re not able to set it up again without knowing your device or Google account credentials. This renders a stolen device unsellable, reducing incentives for phone theft."

The "Private Space" feature can hide sensitive apps, which one can do with a lock and a separate PIN, giving additional security for apps that might contain sensitive data, like health or financial information.

These features will be rolling out through Google Play services updates later this year to the devices running Android 10+, which means scores of people using older OS versions will be able to benefit, in addition to their inclusion in Android 15.

How does theft detection work? In case your device is stolen, the theft detection feature can automatically recognise suspicious signals and proactively protect data on the device.

Google's "Theft Detection Lock" recognises unusual motions using AI to sense if someone snatches your phone from your hand and tries to run, bike or drive away. "If a common motion associated with theft is detected, your phone screen quickly locks – which helps keep thieves from easily accessing your data," says Google.

Google says its automatic AI-powered screen lock uses Google AI to sense if the phone is snatched. "If a thief tries to disconnect your phone for prolonged periods of time, Offline Device Lock automatically locks your screen to help protect your data even when your device is off the grid." Android can also recognise other signs that the device may be in the wrong hands, including locking of the device screen when excessive failed authentication attempts are made.

After locking the device, Google's "Find My Device" will let one remotely lock or wipe a lost or stolen phone. One can also mark it as “lost” for easier tracking. With the "Remote Lock" feature, one can lock the phone screen with just a phone number and a security challenge, using any device. "This buys you time to recover your account details and access additional helpful options in Find My Device, including sending a full factory reset command to completely wipe the device."

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