Many readers are interested in device security and how our Android smartphones and tablets are kept safe and secure from intruders and malware applications. And whilst stories of "Stagefright" are interesting and a source of genuine concern, from time to time we are reminded of the very real impact that technology can have on our day to day lives. Today, we've gotten wind of a story about how an Android device or Google service has been useful in another respect involving security, concerning two young Californian girls from Fresno. The girls, aged eight and fourteen, used the Google Hangouts application to call for help during a burglary. The girls saw the suspect (who has since been identified as Jose Carlos Palomares) breaking into their house from the back yard by forcing a window open. Jose then used a chair to climb into the house, where he stole cash to the value of $400, clothes belonging to the girl's father and a tablet. The girls witnessed the suspect and locked themselves into the bathroom; from here, they sent a Hangout message to their dad's girlfriend, who alerted the authorities and the girl's dad.
Fresno's finest then formed a perimeter around the house and when Jose tried to escape the house carrying backpacks full of stolen property, he was arrested and subsequently booked at the Fresno County Jail. By this time, the girl's dad had arrived on the scene. Jose has been charged with burglary and possession of stolen property. The girl's father, who has not given his name, said this on the matter: "[My daughters] are fine, they are both fine. They did the right thing. They locked themselves into the bathroom. They are good girls. It's a scary situation. We were just talking about getting a dog last weekend, I guess we will be doing that…"
The Google Hangouts application is available for both Android and iOS devices and is an evolution of the Google Talk service. As such, it runs on the majority of the world's smartphones and tablets. The Hangouts service is also available on web browsers via the Gmail website and of course on Google's other mobile operating system, Chrome OS (meaning Chromeboxes and Chromebooks). It is used all over the world and can handle text, emoji, voice and video communication between two or more parties: a Hangouts video call can have up to ten people on the one call and automatically shifts the main video focus to whomever is talking. It's great to see the application service used in such a potentially dire situation to discretely get the message out that something is very, very wrong at home.
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