Google Confirms that Android 8.1 Device Brick after Factory Reset was a Bug, Promises a Fix
Android 8.1 Developer Preview 1 may have had plenty of new features and changes as a maintenance release for Android Oreo, but it has not been free from its share of bugs. Yesterday, a Reddit user reported a strange incident which led some to suspect that Android 8.1 had changed the default behaviour of Factory Reset Protection, Android’s anti-theft feature. Others users called it a bug, and we agreed.
In all versions of Android since 5.1 Lollipop, Factory Reset Protection has worked this way: the user’s Google account is not wiped out even after a factory reset, so the password of the account has to be entered to setup and use the phone. If the person setting up the device does not know the Google account’s password, the device is effectively useless, in turn deterring theft.
However, Reddit user tombolger stated that when he reset his Pixel 2 XL on Android 8.1 DP1, the device asked him for his forgotten lock screen pattern, instead of asking for the password of his Google account. As he could not remember the pattern, the device was permanently bricked and there was no option left but to send the device to Google.
The RMA was processed and he got a replacement device, so his problem was resolved. However, users were wondering whether the issue he faced was a bug or whether it was (new) intended behaviour for Factory Reset Protection on Android 8.1. To clarify the issue, 9to5Google reached out to Google for comment.
Google’s response confirmed that this was not intended behaviour and was instead a bug. According to 9to5Google, Google confirmed that Android 8.1 Developer Preview 1 has a bug relating to lock screen patterns. The report stated that users in a similar scenario that set a PIN or password (instead of a pattern lock) would be able to bypass Factory Reset Protection with their Google account.
This means that there is a specific problem which occurs only when pattern unlock is selected as lock screen security in Android, which somewhat lessens the scope and/or impact of the bug. Users who have selected a PIN code or password are not affected.
Google stated to 9to5Google that the bug will be resolved in the next developer preview of Android 8.1 that is scheduled to come later this month. In conclusion, users can rest easy knowing that there will be no change to Factory Reset Protection’s current behaviour in the stable version of Android 8.1 (which is said to be released in a few weeks).