As handy as the Google Play store is, and as good as security apps are for Android, it’s still tough to police apps and games that can be freely found online. To that end, Google is doing its part to compile a database of APK files that find their way online. This is part of an effort to keep users safe and sound and to fully understand the difference between good titles and bad ones.
Android VP of Engineering, Hiroshi Lockheimer, tells Computerworld that they have been analyzing these apps and that they assume users will want this extra measure. Additionally, they are taking other steps to ensure you’re protected against the baddies.
“We view security as a universal thing….Assuming the user wants this additional insurance policy, we felt like we shouldn’t exclude one source over another…We have a catalog of 700,000 applications in the Play Store, and beyond that, we’re always scanning stuff on the Web in terms of APKs that are appearing. We have a pretty good understanding of the app ecosystem now, whether something’s in the Play Store or not. The server does all the hard work…The device sends only a signature of the APK so that the server can identify it rapidly.”
In addition to the added level of protection and security, Google has changed the app permissions screen for users. Android 4.2 Jelly Bean introduces a new, more detailed screen which spells out permission requests. What’s more, there’s also a new feature that alerts users anytime an app attempts to send a text message that could result in costly bills. Try to send an SMS to a known fee-collecting number and your device will prompt you and ask whether you want to allow it.