Google quietly added a new panic detection mode in Android 7.1 Nougat, a feature that will help protect users against malware.
Hacking incidents have been on the rise recently, as malware such as CopyCat, which infected over 14 million Android devices last year, and Xavier, which was found in more than 800 Google Play Store apps, recently made the headlines. While user awareness remains the best protection against malware, Android's new panic detection mode will help fight back against hackers trying to hijack the user's device.
Google Rolls Out Panic Detection Mode
The new panic detection mode was first discovered by XDA Developers, and no, it does not call the police when users panic after malware infects their Android device.
Some malware apps start to take control of an Android device by disabling its buttons, including its back button, to prevent users from getting back to the home screen or switching to other apps. When that happens, the probable reaction is for users to panic, and start frantically pressing on their Android device's back button to try to access the home screen.
After four presses in rapid succession, the panic detection mode kicks in. The feature will detect that the user's frantic presses on the back button is not normal, and will re-enable it to get them back to the home screen. Afterward, users can then delete the app that tried to hijack their Android device.
Why Did Google Launch The Feature Quietly?
Google did not publicly announce the launch of the panic detection mode likely because it did not want to tip hackers that such a feature is in place. While it is now the subject of several reports, it will still likely be potent enough to fight back against malware, even if hackers now know about it.
With the feature now out in the open, users should take note that it is in place for supported devices. After trying to press the back button and only returning to the home screen after several tries, it should be taken as a sign that an app tried to hijack your Android device. Recently downloaded apps should then be deleted to purge malware off of the smartphone or tablet.
As Google launches more anti-malware features for Android, the best security against hackers is for users to remain vigilant. Users are highly recommended to only download apps from trusted sources and developers, or else they might find themselves needing to often use the panic detection mode.