For the most part Android smartphones and tablet users never want their devices to get bricked because of a failed update or a hack they are trying to install themselves. However, there are times when rendering your own device into a useless brick is very appealing. Specifically when your phone is lost or stolen and you don’t want the thief able to use your device or access data you have stored there. The Android Open Source Project (AOSP) has integrated a new feature to allow users to brick devices when needed.
The new feature is a recovery-based brick function that wants to make wiping the device easy to do. When the feature is initiated on a lost or stolen device, it securely erases any partition on the Android device by writing zeroes into the partition. It will write the zeroes to all partitions including the recovery, boot, and bootloader.
Once that level of bricking is completed the only way to potentially recover the device would be with dedicated JTAG hardware. With the new feature, manufacturers can choose which partitions would be cleared in the brick command and could even add the inserted SD card to the function. There would undoubtedly be ways built into the command to allow the user to recover the device if it is found.
As of now there is no indication of when Google might adopt this brick option or if it Google will use the feature at all. The challenge for Google will undoubtedly be figuring out some way to allow device owners to fix devices bricked using the new command while making it impossible for thieves to do the same thing.