Android users have always been concerned about the security of apps and general protection from malware, but this doesn’t mean the platform isn’t safe.
In fact, Google has always been at hand to ensure that all Android devices are as safe as possible, but the tech giant’s only fault is that it wasn’t good at showing the world how the security features it has implemented actually work.
In May this year, the search engine giant announced a tool known as Google Play Protect. While Google is doing everything possible to position this tool as a new feature for Android users, it’s not really new. If anything, this is just an advanced version of the Verify Apps feature that has been around for quite some time now, only that not so many people have been aware of it.
Unlike the Verify Apps feature that has been operating from the background on Android devices, Google Play Protect is here to take center stage by vividly showing users that their Android devices are indeed safe and secure.
So, how does Google Play Protect work?
The obvious question that many are already asking now is how exactly does this Google Play Protect feature work on Android devices? Well, it’s quite simple.
In case you didn’t know, Google usually does a rigorous scanning of all apps before they can be published to the Play Store for all Android users to access them. This process is aimed at identifying any rogue or rather potentially harmful apps that might be looking to sneak into the Play Store and pose as safe apps for unsuspecting users. Despite all the efforts, there are some apps that manage to escape these tests and eventually find themselves in the Play Store.
This is where the new Google Play Protect comes in. This is basically a real-time app scanner that tracks rogue apps that might have found their way into the Play Store. The feature will scan these apps before and after they are installed on your Android phone or tablet, which means it’s always on the watch-out.
In short, Google Play Protect scans all apps that you get from the Play Store before they are installed on the phone to ensure that they are safe. If any rogue app manages to bypass this safety check, the feature will still be there to monitor the activities of this rogue app on your phone over time, thus identifying any form of suspicious activities.
If you regularly install apps from outside the Google Play Store, the feature will also help verify updates and these installations to ensure that they don’t bring any harm to your phone. With Google Play Protect, you can remotely locate, lock as well as wipe malicious contents from your device. The feature will also warn you whenever you visit any malicious websites in Google Chrome or when it identifies a rogue app on your phone so that you can delete it before it causes any further damage.
There’s a catch
One little problem with Google Play Protect, though, is that not every Android user can have it. Apparently, the tech giant has limited the feature to those Android devices using at least Google Play Services version 11 and above. If this is your version, the feature will be enabled by default. You can check the current version of the Google Play Services installed on your phone by heading to Settings>Apps>Google Play Services and tap on it, where you should see a number that contains the software version.
If your phone is still running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or an older version, you can find the Google Play Protect feature under Settings>Google>Security>Google Play Protect (Verify Apps). Those using Android 7.0 Nougat can also find this feature in the Play Store by navigating to the Menu, where you should see a Play Protect option in the navigational drawer.
You can enable/disable Google Play Protect
Even though Google Play Protect is enabled by default in Google Play Services 11 and above, you still have the option to enable or disable it. Go to Settings>Google>Settings>Security>Google Play Protect/Verify Apps and turn “Scan device for security threats” on or off. It’s advisable to keep the feature turned on, unless you want to fall victim of scammers and malicious apps.