Google's made a lot of behind-the-scenes security enhancements to Android lately, and today we're seeing yet another significant improvement: the ability to set or change the password on your Android device from afar.
This, folks, is a big deal.
The functionality, spotted by the gang over at Android Police, is a new addition to the Android Device Manager tool. That tool already let you remotely find and wipe your Android phone or tablet from any computer or mobile device -- but while those options are great, there are times when you might misplace your phone and want to give it some extra protection without going nuclear.
This new function lets you do just that: All you do is go to google.com/android/devicemanager, select the phone or tablet you want, and select the "Lock" command. Google will then prompt you for a password. Seconds later, regardless of where your phone is, it'll be locked down with that new code -- whether you had a PIN, pattern, or password on it before or not.
This effectively means you can leave your phone unsecured and then put a password in place as needed, only if and when your phone disappears. It's still more advisable to keep a PIN, pattern, or password in place all the time, of course, but for folks who are resistant to the idea, this provides an excellent on-demand Plan B (insert your own prophylactic joke here).
And yes, in case you're wondering: This should be available right now on any Android device running the now-ancient 2.2 release or higher. It has nothing to do with an over-the-air update provided by your manufacturer or carrier. You can thank Google's newly "deconstructed" approach to Android development for that.
You do, however, have to activate the function on your phone in order for it to work. You only have to do that once per device; I'd strongly recommend taking a minute to do it right now so that the option's there and ready if you ever need it.