Google may be rolling out a new feature to Android that enables your phone to lock itself if it’s not in your hand or your pocket, according to a new report from Android Police (via 9to5Google). It sounds like your phone needs to be running Android 5.0 Lollipop or higher in order for the feature to work.
The phone would be able to detect whether or not it’s in your hand through its accelerometer — a chip that’s used to detect motion. So, if the accelerometer senses that you’ve placed your phone down on a table, it would automatically lock.
You can already set your phone to lock a few seconds after the screen shuts off in Android, but the new feature makes it so that you don’t have to remember to turn off the screen.
If you hand the phone to someone else while it’s unlocked, the phone will remain unlocked since it can’t tell who is holding the phone. The feature is called “On-body detection,” and Android Police’s tipster first noticed it on a Nexus 4 running Android 5.0.1, although it’s also been seen on non-Nexus devices as well.
It’s another effort by Google to prevent phone theft in Android — earlier this month, the company announced a new Android feature called Device Protection, which launches with Android 5.1. This enables your phone to stay locked until you sign in with your Google account, even if the phone is rest to its factory settings.
Google seems to be experimenting with different authentication methods with its newest version of Android. When Android 5.0 was announced at Google I/O in May, the company showed off a feature that automatically unlocks your device if you’re wearing an Android Wear smartwatch paired to the device.