Why is Google hiding its app that helps creditors limit your phone’s functions?



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Credit: David Imel / Android Authority

  • There is a relatively new Google app on the Play Store called Device Lock Controller.
  • The app is designed to assist creditors in blocking certain phone functions for borrowers who have defaulted.
  • For some reason, this app doesn’t appear on the Google LLC page with other Google apps.

If you want to find all the Android apps Google has created, you can just visit the Google LLC page on the Play Store. However, for unknown reasons, you won’t find one of its newest apps on that list (h/t XDA-Developers).

The new app is called Device Lock Controller. Here is the official description from its Play Store page:

Device Lock Controller enables device management for credit providers. Your provider can remotely restrict access to your device if you don’t make payments. If your device is restricted, basic functionality, such as emergency calling and access to settings, will still be available.

In brief, the app allows lenders to limit the functionality of Android devices owned by borrowers. Theoretically, you could buy a smartphone through a lender and that lender could pre-install this app. If you defaulted on your loan, the lender could then shut down specific functions of your phone until you rectify the situation.

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This app is a very strange new avenue for Google. It’s additionally strange that this app is hidden away on the Play Store, separated from the rest of the Google LLC products. We reached out to Google to get some clarity on this but didn’t immediately hear back.

Device Lock Controller: Seems shady to us

An app like this seems fairly reasonable on paper. After all, if you borrow money to buy a phone and you default on your arrangement to pay back the lender, there should be repercussions. Theoretically, this app shutting down some of your phone’s core functions would come well after the lender tried its best to get you to pay up.

However, it does seem strange to us that Google created this app. This is not the type of service Google typically provides. Most of the company’s apps are focused on productivity and making the user’s life better, not more restrictive. Plus, there’s no indication Google will monitor how lenders use this app. For example, what if the lender doesn’t do its due diligence before shutting off phone functions? Are there precautions in place to protect the consumer’s interests?

The combination of this app’s design, as well as its absence from the main Google LLC page, makes us a little uneasy. Hopefully, Google will respond to our inquiry and give us some clarity on the Device Lock Controller app.


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