Why aren't users using protection? Investigating the usability of smartphone locking

Nicholas Micallef
Glasgow Caledonian University

2:45pm-3:15pm, 19 August 2015
EM G.44


One of the main reasons why smartphone users do not adopt screen locking mechanisms is due to the inefficiency of entering a PIN/pattern each time they use their phone. To address this problem we designed a context-sensitive screen locking application which asked participants to enter a PIN/pattern only when necessary, and evaluated its impact on efficiency and satisfaction. Both groups of participants, who prior to the study either locked or did not lock their phone, adopted our application and felt that unlocking their phone only when necessary was more efficient, did not annoy them and offered a reasonable level of security. Participants responded positively to the option of choosing when a PIN/pattern is required in different contexts. Therefore, we recommend that designers of smartphone locking mechanisms should consider ceding a reasonable level of control over security settings to users to increase adoption and convenience, while keeping smartphones reasonably secure.

A pre-conference talk for MobileHCI 2015 (24-27 August). Co-authored with Mike Just (Heriot-Watt), Lynne Baillie (Heriot-Watt), Martin Halvey (Strathclyde) and Gunes Kayacik (FICO). The corresponding paper has received an honourable mention award (top 5% of submissions).

Hosts: Mike Just and Lynne Baillie