We’ve been hearing a couple of tidbits about Android P recently as the launch date of the software approaches closer. A new report focuses on a key security highlight of the OS which will prevent malicious apps from eavesdropping on users through the camera or microphone.
The folks over at XDA Developers discovered this while digging through some Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code. It appears that Android P will stop apps running in the background from spying or listening in on people.
This is a huge privacy concern for many, as evidenced by an article last year which revealed that nearly 1000 Android apps were using the microphone for ad-tracking audio signals. There’s also the possibility that a rogue app is accessing the camera even when it’s not active.
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Google has imposed some limitations to prevent this sort of behavior in recent versions of Android, but this new step will make it even harder for apps to abuse the permissions granted to it. The restriction kicks into place when an app enters an idle state. Android’s audio system won’t allow it to record sounds at this point.
The app will then record empty data instead of writing data from the microphone to a file. This will only change once the application becomes active again. While it’s great that Android P will be getting this feature, it would be nice if even older versions of the OS could get hold of it as well. Apps will still be able to target those builds, leaving them vulnerable.