Google has recently announced Android Device Manager. This is a service designed to help safeguard your phone, but could it spell the end for more traditional security apps, such as those provided by Kaspersky?
Viruses have not troubled mobile operating systems to the same extent they have the PC. That does not mean there are no security concerns, just that potential risks are different.
Companies like Kaspersky have introduced features such as loss and theft protection to their mobile security products. After all, a device you carry around with you all day is more likely to be lost or stolen than a desktop PC that sits in the corner of a bedroom.
Microsoft, Apple and Blackberry all offer a degree of loss and theft protection as standard, with services to help users locate their phones. Unfortunately, Android has not provided anything similar, with users having to rely on third-party apps from the likes of Kaspersky.
This neglect is being put right, though, with the launch of Android Device Manager. The service will start rolling out to anyone running Android 2.2 or above, later this month. It will be available by logging in to a Google account, or using the dedicated app.
In the blog post announcing Android Device Manager, two main features were highlighted.. These centre around locating devices and erasing data:
Device location – If your Android device goes missing, it will be possible to get it to ring at maximum volume. Or if the device in question is a little further afield, you can bring up its location on a map.
Erase data – The ability to erase data will be very useful to anyone who has resigned themselves to the fact that they aren’t going to be able to retrieve their device. But even if your phone or tablet gets handed in somewhere, it may still be worthwhile erasing the data in order to prevent snooping.
One feature that was not mentioned is the ability to lock a device remotely. However, screenshots posted on Reddit seem to indicate that this option will be provided at some point, even if it is not present in the initial release.
The introduction of Android Device Manager is very welcome and it is most definitely a step in the right direction. However, the service does not compare particularly favourably with the likes of Kaspersky Mobile Security, so you are unlikely to want to replace any dedicated apps just yet.
If a SIM card is removed from a phone or tablet running Kaspersky Mobile Security, then the app can be set to automatically block the device. And if a new SIM card is inserted, Kaspersky can notify you via email and SMS of the new phone number.
Kaspersky Mobile Security can also display a message to anyone who has your device, take a mugshot of them, inform you of their location and erase all of your data. So whilst Android Device Manager is a very welcome development, it can not replace the comprehensive range of features that can be found in some security apps.