Because our smartphones are so important for us, we keep a lot of sensitive data on them. This sometimes can get troubling when we have to quickly lend the phone to someone else so they can check out a picture or video, for example. After all, even accidentally, they can easily leave the app you wanted them to use and instead snoop around the device, change settings and opening all kinds of apps they’re not supposed to. So today, we’ll show you a simple and easy way to prevent that by using the “screen pinning” feature of Android.
Screen pinning means that the OS keeps a specific app on the screen at all times, in effect, locking the user to that app. Basically, in this mode, attempting to leave the app or change to another one will not work, and you can’t even pull down the notification tray. This mode is ideal to prevent snooping around your device, or even just to prevent people who don’t know how your phone works from doing any damage. This feature requires either Android Lollipop or Marshmallow, as the feature isn’t present in previous versions of the OS. With that being said, let’s go ahead and show you how it works:
The first thing you need to do is open the Settings, and tap the “Security” section:
After that, scroll to the bottom and you will see the “Screen pinning” option. Tap on it:
As you can see, this screen provides you with a little information on how it works. To enable it, press the toggle switch at the top:
Now, the feature is enabled, and another option shows up, “Lock device when unpinning”:
This option is useful to guarantee that when the app is unpinned, the device is automatically locked. Anyone can unpin an app if they know how to, so you should enable this option if you’re worried about people snooping around. Anyway, let’s get to how to actually use the feature. To start, switch to the app that you would like to pin. For example, here I chose News and Weather:
Then, press the Overview button on your device (that means the square icon at the bottom of your phone):
It will present you with the app switcher. Scroll down to the bottom and you should notice a new round button at the bottom right corner of the app:
Tap it, and you will pin that app:
As you can see, the app is now locked, and you can’t see the notification bar anymore:
Attempting to press the Home, Back or Overview buttons to leave the app will not work, and will instead provide you with this message, effectively locking you in and preventing you from leaving that app:
To unpin, like the message says, hold the Back and Overview buttons together:
That’s about it for this feature. As we mentioned, if you enable the “Lock device when unpinning” option, when the user unpins the app, they will be thrown back to the lockscreen and be forced to enter a pin or guess the unlock pattern, which makes this feature reasonably secure for both intended and unintended snooping around. Considering that it’s built into Android and requires no extra apps, it’s a great feature to have around for when you need to hand over your phone to someone you don’t trust.