Google’s Android Pie software has been around for a couple of months, but only a handful of devices have received the update so far. The stable build of the software had a bunch of bugs and Google has tried to fix many of them via monthly security patches. However, users are complaining about a Pattern Lock issue that could put their security at risk. Affected users have taken to Reddit, Google Issue Tracker, and Google Product Forums to complain about the problem.
What’s the Pattern Lock issue and how it could affect users
The Android Pie software brings improvements to the interface, battery life, notifications while introducing new features such as Digital Health. The Pattern Lock issue appears to be a software one rather than a hardware one. Most Android vendors have added fingerprint recognition or facial recognition to their mid-range and premium smartphones. But a large number of users still rely on the good-old PIN or Pattern Unlocking for security.
Buried within the system Settings is the option to make pattern unlock invisible by disabling Make Pattern Visible. When you toggle off Make Pattern Visible, people around you won’t be able to see your phone’s unlock pattern. However, Android users have taken to social media to report that sometimes the pattern becomes visible even when they had chosen to hide it.
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The affected users were not able to replicate the Pattern Lock issue every time. Some of them noticed that things work as usual when you pull out your phone and unlock it. But when you get a notification (email, text, etc) and you double tap on the notification, the phone wants you to unlock it first. And this time it makes the pattern visible. It started after users upgraded to Android Pie.
The Pattern Lock issue puts your security at risk if you are unlocking the phone while others are looking at it and the pattern suddenly becomes visible. Notably, beta testers had pointed out the same problem in the Android 9.0 Pie beta. Google has already marked it as fixed on the Issue Tracker website. Surprisingly, the problem has sprung back to life in the public build of Android Pie.
You can argue that not everyone uses the Pattern Lock feature and even among those who do use, not all of them choose to hide their patterns. But there are still dozens of users who have complained about it on public forums. Folks at Piunikaweb noticed that the Pattern Lock issue affects devices running the stock version of Android Pie. Google’s own Pixel devices and Nokia phones run the stock Android. Most other vendors use a customized version of the software on their phones.
Earlier this week, Google pushed out the October Security Patch to compatible devices but it doesn’t fix the Pattern Lock issue. We expect the company to fix it when it rolls out the next Security Patch in the first week of November. The October patch fixes the fast-charging issue that plagued the Pixel and Pixel 2 smartphones running Android Pie. In total, the update addresses about 25 issues in the software.
Did you know about the Lockdown mode in Android Pie?
Not many people know this, but Android Pie includes a cool feature that allows you to lock down your phone if someone – hackers, law enforcement agencies, police, etc – is forcing you to unlock your phone using fingerprint recognition or facial scanner. Of course, you won’t need it every day but it could prove useful in tricky situations. The feature is called ‘Lockdown mode.’ It not only disables biometric recognition features but also the Smart Lock options. The only way you’ll be able to unlock it is by using your PIN, pattern, or password.
You can enable it from the Security section in Settings. Tap on the Lock screen preferences and then toggle on Show Lockdown Option. Whenever you want to use it, go to the lock screen of your phone and hold down the power button for a second or two. You’ll now see options to restart or switch off your phone. Right below them will be an option called Lockdown if you have enabled it from Settings.