When swiping down the notification bar on Android, you are receiving a selection of buttons which offer you quick access to toggle various functionalities of the phone like turn on/off wifi, toggle sound/vibration or toggle the mobile internet connection.

The notification bar can be swiped down if the phone is locked and unlocked alike, but when trying to toggle wifi in the locked stage, you have to unlock the phone before the toggle works. This does not apply to similar function like the mobile internet connection.

What might be a reason for this design decision? Swiping down and touching a button is usually done consiously and the chances to do these actions accidently are very low, therefore I do not think that this was done to "protect the user from themselves".

up vote 9 down vote accepted

It's a safety measure to track your phone (using Android Device Manager) in case it gets lost or stolen. You can check more information here: https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/6160491?hl=en and I quote:

Android Device Manager won't work for devices that are turned off or that don't have a mobile data or Wi-Fi connection.

Basically if the SIM card is retrieved from the phone to stop having cellular data, Wi-Fi is still used to located the phone. PIN code or other safety option is to prevent the thief or other person to deactivate Wi-Fi.

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