Android 15 Could Include App Quarantine Feature to Protect Users From Malicious Apps: Report

Technology


Android 15 is expected to hit Pixel smartphones later this year, and several features of Google's upcoming operating system (OS) update have surfaced thanks to developer previews and the first public beta. Google is reportedly working on a useful new feature that could help users isolate a malicious app on their smartphone after detecting it. If the feature is added in the final version of Android 15, the operating system may be able to “quarantine” apps, just like antivirus programs in Windows.

Discovered by Android Authority in the latest Android 15 beta, Google is working on the ability to allow a system app, such as Google Play Services or the Play Store, to isolate apps and apply some restrictions to them. Once an app has been quarantined, its capabilities will be severely limited, potentially preventing it from taking adverse actions on the user's device.

The code for the app quarantine feature exists in Android 15, but it hasn't been activated yet, according to the post. According to the current code, the feature will prevent a quarantined app from showing notifications, hide its windows and stop activities, prevent it from ringing the device, and prevent other apps from interacting with some of its services.

The supposed quarantined app interface in Android 15
Photo credit: Android Authority/ Mishaal Rahman

Google is reportedly working on a “QUARANTINE_APPS” permission that can only be granted to apps signed with the same certificate Google uses to sign the Android OS, effectively limiting the ability to quarantine apps on the Play Store (or Google Play services).

It's worth noting that while anti-malware software for Windows computers is also capable of quarantining apps, Android is much more secure than Windows, and apps don't have access to various parts of the phone without first getting permission of the user. As a result, quarantined apps will still be visible in the Android 15 app drawer, but tapping the gray icon will inform users that the app is unavailable, while showing two buttons: OK i Quarantine applicationaccording to the post.

There's no word on whether the feature will be available with Android 15, as it was first seen in a developer build of Android 14 in 2022. If Google decides to enable the functionality in Android 15, it seems likely that only Play Store or Play Store Google Play Services will be able to perform app quarantine functions. However, it could be useful when Google's Play Protect malware scanner detects an app that exhibits suspicious behavior but is not a known threat.


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