For a long time, most of the good cars came with a “valet key” arrangement of some sort. This especially benefited sedans (saloons), coupes and similar cars that had a lockable trunk (boot), but also benefited any car that had a lockable glove box.
Here, the car would come with one key that can only open the doors and start the engine but can’t open the boot or glove box. You could still open the boot or glove box with a separate dedicated key or another key that can open everything. This was about allowing you to had over your car to a mechanic’s, a valet-operated car park or a similar facility knowing that the staff at the facility can’t steal valuables from the glove box or boot.
Samsung is introducing the “Maintenance Mode” as part of its One UI 5 / Android 13 update for their recent Android smartphones. Here, it is to achieve this same goal by locking your personal data in a separate account not available to technicians who repair or service your phone. These technicians then have access to an account specifically created for testing and repairing the phone.
As well, they can install utility software on your phone as part of the maintenance work but once you log in to your phone again with your normal account, this software is removed. A question that can come up here is what happens if the repair requires the installation of software updates or patches, perhaps to provide driver support for replacement hardware and this has to operate with your own normal account.
Samsung are initially offering this to selected Galaxy phones sold within the USA as part of a beta-test for One UI 5 but are wanting to roll this out across the world through 2023.
Most of us would find this of benefit as we use our smartphones as the digital equivalent of our wallets, photo albums and keyrings. The well-founded fear we have with this is technicians taking advantage of our personal data especially if they see value in it for them.
I would see the “Maintenance Mode” feature being of interest to computing-device vendors and operating-system developers as something to add as a significant feature for an operating system. Here it may be offered during a major feature update cycle for the operating system or as part of a security package.
Such a feature could give all of us peace of mind when we relinquish a smartphone, tablet or laptop computer to technicians that we don’t know for repair.