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Google and Microsoft agree to add anti-theft ‘kill switch’ with next OS update

Google and Microsoft will include a “kill switch” on all new versions of their respective smartphone operating systems after the New York attorney general recommended it as an anti-theft measure.

Related: Could smartphone kill switches save consumers billions?

The New York attorney general’s office cited the implementation of a kill switch by Apple in September 2013 that meant thefts of iPhones “plummeted”, according to NY attorney general Eric Schneiderman.

Schneiderman, who started the Secure Our Smartphones Initiative, cited figures that showed just how effective the kill switch has been. Robberies involving Apple products fell by 19 per cent in the first five months of 2014 compared to the same period last year and the figures in London and San Francisco were 24 per cent and 38 per cent respectively.

“The statistics released today illustrate the stunning effectiveness of kill switches and the commitments of Google and Microsoft are giant steps toward consumer safety,” Schneiderman said in a statement, according to Bloomberg.

The movement behind adding kill-switches to mobile phones has been gathering momentum over the past 12 months and would already be in place had various mobile phone carriers not rejected a proposal developed by Samsung to add a kill switch back in November 2013.

Since then a US congress bill has passed that would make it a mandatory requirement for all smartphones to carry a kill switch and this was followed up by Minnesota becoming the first state to make sure they are on all phones from next summer.

Android aligning itself with the plans is significant as it has the largest market share of any OS provider in the US with a 52.5 per cent share compared to Apple’s 41.4 per cent and Microsoft's 3.3 per cent. On a worldwide basis it is expected to ship 80.2 per cent of the globe’s smartphones in 2014 and its decision will make phones from a glut of manufacturers a lot less open to theft.