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Google Android Locks Users Out of Thier Phones
lexipixel




msg:4419052
 6:36 am on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

I just got a call from my (teen) daughter. She's at a friend's house and one of the other kids picked up her phone and tried several times to guess the unlock pattern.

After several attempts, Android based (Verizon) phones revert to a Gmail username / password unlock test.

But, there's a problem...

I can't say for sure, but after reading several support forum messages, (including ones at Google and Verizon Wireless), part of the "security" of the phone shuts off the internet connection -- so in effect, the phone can not communicate with Google to unlock the phone -- even when you enter the correct gmail account and password, it can not be sent --- this introduces a secondary problem of "too many attempts" to unlock the phone, and further locks things down.

I've read several work-around, (none of which seem to work), including having someone send a text message to the locked phone, which causes the "new text message alert" to pop-up on the phone, which may allow the person to connect to a home Wifi connection -- but those icons also appear to be locked.

The sad part is that Verizon has no knowledge of the users Gmail account info, so they can't do anything -- and the end result is having to do a factory reset of the phone, and then attempting to create still another gmail account (the first screen after the reset prompts for a Google account)..

Doing a hard reset loses all apps, photos, contacts, text messages and has a real value "cost" to the user.

I'd like to see an option to NOT setup a Google account on android phones.

The Open Handset Alliance home page says:

"Together we have developed Android™, the first complete, open, and free mobile platform."

The word "free" should not have string attached.

"FREE IS WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE TO PAY FOR NOTHING OR DO NOTHING"

- (lyrics) "Teenage Wind", Frank Zappa


Android is not free.

 

Marshall




msg:4419061
 6:58 am on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

The platform is free, the use of it, however, is not.

Marshall

graeme_p




msg:4419062
 6:58 am on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Android is free by any reasonable definition. Slightly over the top in one aspect of its security does not make it on-free!

I cannot say that a problem that only occurs when the phone has been in the hands of a malicious users.

This is a good opportunity to:

1) Teach your daughter the importance of backups. As most people only learn the hard way its better to happen to a teenager with personal stuff on their phone, than later in life when they lose something valuable (e.g. all the information their business needs to run - I know people that has happened to).

2) Scare a friends about the consequences of messing with other people's property. I wonder it is a criminal offence (not that I would bring the cops in, but it might be something to tell their parents).

lucy24




msg:4419079
 8:35 am on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Never underestimate a major internet service's potential for stupidity. The OP made me think immediately of this one:

For some reason that I've now forgotten, I wanted to get into webmail. But I'd either forgotten my password, or never had one in the first place. So I go through the blahblah that will get them to e-mail you a temporary new one. I watch my e-mail (this is all happening on my home computer), and wait, but nothing comes in.

Turns out the ISP had labeled its own, individual, addressed-by-name, specifically requested mailing as spam, and routed it to the webmail spam bin. Which I couldn't get to.

I am not making this up. And it explains why I do not use any aspect of my ISP's spam-blocking function.

lexipixel




msg:4419085
 9:09 am on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Android is free by any reasonable definition


"Free" only has one meaning in my dictionary. Having to give over 100% of your personal information and giving the grantor of the "free" thing (android) ultimate control over a tangible piece of personal property (a cell phone), is a stretch of that definition.

Slightly over the top in one aspect of its security does not make it on-free


I have an Android based phone myself. To initialize the phone the first screen says "Enter Google Account Info". (I created a Google account that is only used for the phone, one I never use for email or anything else, and one I have never logged onto any other device with).

My point is more the disconnect, (pun intended), between the phone manufacturer, the cell service provider, the user/owner of the phone and Google. Why should Google have such power over a device that it has no contractual relationship with the user? And if the "Open Handset Alliance" is the home of Android -- shouldn't there be a neutral party that operates the registration...?

The fact is, the "Open Handset Alliance" is not what the name implies -- it is Google and those who want to play by Google's rules.

Imagine your next car is equipped with Android based GPS, communications, MP3/DVD system and alarm system "app" -- and the car has "keyless entry" and some kid in a parking lot presses the keyless entry buttons a few too many times -- you call the car dealer, your auto-club, and a tow truck -- and they all tell you, "Sorry, you'll need to contact Google or we can't unlock the doors, open the truck, tow the vehicle or even touch it without setting off the alarm"...

Anyway -- my reason for posting was to show how our old friend GOOG has crept off the desktop and into other aspects of life. Most here are only concerned with "SERPS", Adsense revenue and privacy / data collection issues -- this is where Google software and services meet hardware and real life.

Imagine someone panicking in a dark parking lot, fumbling a few times trying to unlock their phone too quickly because they are about to be raped or murdered, and up pops a "Please Enter Your Google Account Info" screen that blocks the person from making a call that could have brought help...

Marshall




msg:4419103
 12:48 pm on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Imagine someone panicking in a dark parking lot, fumbling a few times trying to unlock their phone too quickly because they are about to be raped or murdered, and up pops a "Please Enter Your Google Account Info" screen that blocks the person from making a call that could have brought help...


I would hope and suspect 911 calls are an exception to the block.

Marshall

incrediBILL




msg:4419119
 3:37 pm on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

Don't blame Android on the fact that your daughter's friends can't keep their hands to themselves.

The phone did the right thing.

Her friends, not so much.

Obviously you can perform a hard reset on the phone and bring it back to it's original factory state but it'll lose everything, and I mean everything. The upside is the contact list and such are maintained at Google and it'll reload and in theory so should anything you purchased via the marketplace.

mack




msg:4419124
 4:00 pm on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

You do not need a Google account to use an android phone. It will limit access to Google services, but it is not required. On install when it asks you for account details you can simply press skip.

I would try connecting the usb cable, and see if it can access the net through your PC?

Mack.

lexipixel




msg:4419176
 9:08 pm on Feb 18, 2012 (gmt 0)

You do not need a Google account to use an android phone. ......... On install when it asks you for account details you can simply press skip.


When I setup my phone I tried to skip over the screen and was locked into a loop that repeatedly nagged me to provide the Google account info. I had no desire to use anything Google related on my phone. I ended up creating a throw away Google account to get past the setup screen.

I would try connecting the usb cable, and see if it can access the net through your PC?


She tried several ways including Wifi and USB cable, (and got "Can not access device" prompts). All she was left with was the Google screen, incoming calls, and very short (2-3 word) incoming text messages appear on the status bar...

oh well...

Don't blame Android on the fact that your daughter's friends can't keep their hands to themselves. The phone did the right thing.


Yes, teenagers do stupid things, and I understand the security concerns, backup issues, etc...

A phone locking because someone tried to access it is one thing, but the idea that Google is the gatekeeper is another.

mack




msg:4419244
 3:18 am on Feb 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Call your carrier or on your carriers web site obtain your PUK.(phone unlock key)

boot up and press the emergency call button.
**05* then the puk code * [new pin) * (confirm new pin) #

Hope this gets you fixed up.

Mack.

lexipixel




msg:4419258
 4:53 am on Feb 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Hope this gets you fixed up.
-Mack

It was a bit more complicated. Carrier is Verizon Wireless, phone is a Droid X, (Android Gingerbread OS).

I had to press the Emergency Call button and dial *611... after getting a rep to help, here's the steps we went through:

1). Power off phone

2). press and hold [HOME] button while pressing and holding [POWER] button.

3). Simultaneously press and hold [VOL UP]+[VOL DOWN]

4). "Blue Screen" appears at top of display, (very similar to a WIN "safe mode" warm reboot screen)

5). Use [VOLUME] buttons to scroll to [Wipe Data / Reset Phone] selection, and press [POWER].

6). Verify selection by pressing [POWER] again.

7). Enter Google Account name and password.

8). Enter Security PIN.

If phone was set to use Google Sync before lock out, all contacts and apps will be restored, (you'll still need to enter user settings for those apps).

NOTE: Thanks to Verizon rep "Jennifer" who walked me through this on a second phone --- after (3) other reps had told me the only way to reset a Droid X if it had the Google "Too many unlock attempts" message was to bring the phone into a Verizon store... (you can always count on graveyard shift tech support people!)

Now they can come to WebmasterWorld!

graeme_p




msg:4419270
 5:57 am on Feb 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

"Free" only has one meaning in my dictionary


The Android software is free. The device you use is locked down. There is no requirement that an Android device is locked into Google services. It is perfectly possible to install Android without any Google services at all - in fact the Droid X is supported by Cyanogen Mod.

We already have two meanings for the phrase "free software", you are trying to add a third!

@Marshall, that is one read I dislike smartphones. You do not really have to worry too much about that sort of issue with a simpler phone.

incrediBILL




msg:4419336
 4:30 pm on Feb 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

You do not really have to worry too much about that sort of issue with a simpler phone.


True.

With a simpler phone there would be no lock code, someone would just pick it up and rack up a quick hundred dollar call to Taiwan or wherever, maybe a 900 #

mack




msg:4419364
 6:12 pm on Feb 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Glad you managed to get it resolved! At least someone knew what they where talking about. Sounds like a problem with training. Most call centers use some form of knowledge base, but usability is generaly poor. On a call the customer wants answers, its tricky to get the info and still interact with the caller.

Mack.

graeme_p




msg:4419381
 7:58 pm on Feb 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

@incrediBill, I own a VERY cheap phone, and it can be locked with a code. I do not bother because it is also prepaid, and I rarely have more than the equivalent of about $10 on it. Even a call to the UK (the most expensive I make regularly) costs only the equivalent of a few cents a minute, so I do not need lots of money on it.

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