Mobility

How to pin your screen for more secure device sharing

Android Lollipop includes a handy feature that allows you to pin an app to the screen to prevent prying eyes from getting beyond that single app. Jack Wallen walks you through how to make use of this feature.

Pinning

Android Lollipop offers a Guest mode, which makes handing over your device to a friend, colleague, or child a bit more secure. But what happens when you don't want to go through the process of selecting a Guest user, and you just want to allow another person to see something in a specific app? Believe it or not, Android Lollipop has you covered with Screen pinning.

Screen pinning allows you to pin an app to the screen (such that it can only be dismissed with your lock screen password, PIN, or pattern). This lesser-known feature is a masterpiece for those who want a quick means to secure their phones from prying eyes when you just want to show an app to someone. Here's how you work with Screen pinning.

Enabling

The first thing you must do is enable the feature. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Open up Settings
  2. Tap Security
  3. Locate and tap Screen pinning
  4. Switch the feature to On (Figure A)
  5. Turn Lock device when unpinning (to necessitate the use of your PIN, password, or pattern to unpin the screen)

Figure A

Figure A

Enabling pinning on a Verizon-branded Nexus 6.

Usage

When you've opened the app you want to pin, tap the overview button (the square button on the bottom right corner of the screen), and then tap the green pin button (Figure B). Note: You can only gain access to the pin button on the most recently opened app. If there's an app in the listing you want to pin, you have to close all apps in front of it.

Figure B

Figure B

Pinning an app from the overview.

Tap the green pin button, and the app will pin to the screen. Hand the device over, and the user will not be able to get out of that screen.

The only way to exit the pinned app is to tap and hold the back and overview buttons at the same time. The device will return to the lock screen, where you must enter your PIN/password/pattern to return to the overview screen.

That's it. You can now use the pinning feature to help prevent prying eyes from reaching your sensitive data, while still allowing someone to view an app on your Lollipop-powered device.

What do you think of the new security features on Android Lollipop? Are they enough, or does Google need to go farther? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

Editor's Picks

Free Newsletters, In your Inbox