GOOGLE HAS QUIETLY axed a 'little-used' feature from Android which has resulted in an outcry from dedicated users.
The NFC Smart Lock feature allowed users to keep their phone unlocked using RFID tags - such as those found in bank cards, stickers and under the skin, both in humans and animals.
Complainants point out that this is a feature that comes under "accessibility" and as such it's not a like-for-like comparison to say that other services such as fingerprint sensing and Bluetooth unlock are a suitable alternative.
The issue only came to light when it was reported to Google's engineering team, who responded:
"Status: Won't Fix (Intended Behavior). SmartLock NFC feature has been deprecated for new users. If you are not existing NFC users, the option will be hidden."
Ah yes, this is worth explaining. You see, it will work until you sign out or reboot. After that, it goes bye-bye.
Google has finally come clean on an explanation, following a long period of standard-issue Reddit stroppery and indignation.
"We constantly evaluate unlock mechanisms and evolve them. Our end goal is to provide the best possible experience for you that balances security, simplicity, and convenience. We constantly make product decisions based on multiple factors including usage, the value we provide, your feedback, and the availability of alternatives.
"In the case of NFC unlock, we've seen extremely low usage. At the same time, there are alternatives available now that are easy to use, are secure and have much wider adoption. Given this, we decided to disable NFC unlock. However, if you have NFC unlock currently set up, you can continue to use it until you reset your device, switch to a different device, or explicitly remove the NFC tag from Smart Lock settings."
However, this isn't really an explanation in the biblical sense. After all, low usage isn't something that necessarily means that Google is going to slam the door on it. And surely, it might just be hidden but available in the developer options?
But no. It's gone, completely and there are no comebacks. Perhaps there are still security problems?
If you've injected an NFC chip under your skin for this purpose, you're probably pretty angry, right about now. µ
But don't expect laptop prices
Vulnerability targets hardware created by Infineon Technologies
Expect something commercial in 2019
Ex-employees say bugs were stolen and used in future attacks