Android 14 will make it easier to hide your phone’s PIN from shoulder surfers
Google just released the second beta for the upcoming Android 13 QPR3 release in June, but the new version doesn’t offer much in terms of new features and improvements. Since QPR3 it will be Android 13The latest release for maintenance, it mainly focuses on stability changes and bug fixes. However, some minor quality-of-life improvements do make their way to the QPRs, and Android 13 QPR3 is no different. Since few OEMs outside of the Pixel are integrating QPRs, these quality of life improvements will become available on devices from other brands in the next major Android release, for example. Android 14. And in Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2, we discovered a new feature that will make its way to other devices on Android 14: Enhanced PIN Privacy.
After running Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2 on our Pixel 6, we detected the “Enhanced PIN Privacy” toggle under Settings > Security & privacy > Lock device. The description for this toggle reads “Disable animation while entering a PIN”, which means that the animation that normally plays when you tap any number will not be displayed on the keyguard. This will make it difficult for shoulder surfers to watch you enter your PIN, because the Android lock screen won’t display a clear visual cue for each number you tap on.
Here’s a video demonstrating the new, improved PIN privacy feature. This video was recorded from another device because Android applies FLAG_SECURE to the keyguard window, which prevents screenshots and screen recordings from being taken. special thanks for Neil Sadikoff For sharing this video with us!
Shoulder surfing is a common social engineering attack used to gain access to users’ devices, where many people enter their PIN while in public. A recent report from The Wall Street Journal Show how shoulder surfers can gain almost full access to an Apple or Google user account simply by observing their phone’s unlock code and then swiping their device. Making it more difficult for shoulder surfers to monitor PIN entry will make it harder for them to later access an Apple or Google user account, hopefully.
Improved PIN privacy isn’t the only new lock screen-related improvement in Android 14. We previously discovered a new feature called “Auto Confirm Correct PIN” that lets you bypass hitting Enter to unlock your phone. This feature is not available to users yet, unlike the new improved PIN privacy switch that we spotted in Android 13 QPR3 Beta 2. Speaking of which, the new improved PIN privacy switch is likely to appear in the next Android 14 preview build, which is expected to be Android 14 Beta 1. Android 14 Beta 1 is likely to arrive in early April, and when it does, we’ll be covering new features and changes extensively.
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