Google is preparing an Android 13 update, which would would make it far more difficult for people to snoop on a device owner while entering their security PIN.
The update, which is currently available within the Android 13 QPR3 Beta, will no longer briefly show the numbers on the display as they’re entered by the user. Of course, there are plenty of users who don’t bother with the pin unless necessary anymore, but this could be a useful privacy addition.
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While the existing feature does make it easier for the user to determine whether they have pressed the correct number, the mechanism does leave it open for someone to steel the PIN with a crafty glaze over the shoulder.
When Google integrates the new privacy option within the main version of the operating system, only the stars will appear on the display, rather than the numbers, for users who still use the PIN unlock.
That does mean the user will have to be careful when entering the PIN because too many attempts can still cause lockouts. However, it sure beats someone stealing your PIN and getting up to all sorts of nonsense.
9to5Google spotted the new feature within the beta and, when it rolls out to all users, it should be available via “Settings > Security & privacy > Device lock > Gear icon) called Enhanced PIN privacy.” The site says that it is disabled by default within the new beta so you’ll probably have to enable if yourself when the feature comes to the main version of Android.
The site speculates that it may arrive during the June Pixel Feature Drop, but also cautions Google may choose to drop the feature before launch. It’s also possible Google may choose to debut the feature as part of Android 14, which will be unveiled a little over a month from now at Google I/O in May.