Google said Brazilian users will now have access to new anti-theft features

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Google said Tuesday it has chosen Brazil, a country where nearly two cellphones are pilfered every minute, to test a new Artificial Intelligence system to automatically block stolen Android smartphones.

Brazilian users, the tech giant said in a blog, will now have access to features such as a private space to hide apps with sensitive data behind a separate PIN, and automatic screen blocking if the AI detects sudden movement indicating theft.

Another new feature is the ability to block access to device data remotely, without the need for a password, simply by using the phone number.

“Brazilian user feedback inspired these anti-theft features, and the country will be the first to test them out,” said Google.

The pilot version will be available in Brazil from July, before rolling out more broadly later this year to billions of devices.

Google’s main mobile competitor, Apple, launched an anti-theft system for its iOS devices in January.

According to the most recent data from the Brazil Forum on Public Safety, an NGO, the country recorded nearly a million mobile phone thefts in 2022, or 1.9 every minute.

This was an increase of 16.6 percent from 2021, with the problem particularly dire in major cities such as Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.