Android P, which is expected to be unveiled at Google I/O 2018 in May, will come with a much-needed security feature that will block background apps from accessing the cameras and microphones of smartphones.
Setting aside the question on whether Android device owners need another major operating system upgrade, the discovered Android P feature will certainly provide peace of mind for privacy-conscious users.
Android P To Block Backgrounds Apps' Access To Cameras And Microphones
Hackers can hijack a smartphone's camera and microphone through a variety of methods, but Google wants to curb such illegal practices starting with Android P.
According to source code spotted by XDA Developers, malicious apps running in the background of Android P smartphones will not be able to access the camera and microphone. This will prevent hackers from spying on their victims.
With the new source code, malicious apps that want to access the camera or microphone will need to be in the foreground. Thanks to the requirements of Android Oreo, the app will need to show a notification that it is running, alerting the user of any shady activities.
Until now, Google has not implemented any such security features for its Android operating system. This has allowed the proliferation of apps that can take pictures and videos or record audio without users knowing about it. The Android P will stop such apps from invading the privacy of users.
Hackers who are targeting to secretly use an Android smartphone's camera or microphone will need to fool Android itself, in addition to tricking users to download their apps. This will make it more difficult for hackers, which would hopefully drastically decrease cases of digital snooping.
What Else Do We Know About Android P?
Late last year, XDA Developers also spotted controversial Android P code that may allow carriers to hide signal strengths on smartphones running on the operating system. This will deny customers the chance of monitoring the services provided by the carriers.
Meanwhile, just last week, a report claimed that Google was planning to integrate support into Android P for smartphones with camera notches at the top of their screens just like the iPhone X.
As features and improvements for Android P trickle through the rumor mills, one of the biggest questions for Google is how it plans to solve the Android fragmentation problem. Android 8.0 Oreo and Android 8.1 Oreo have only collectively been installed in 1.1 percent of active Android devices, and it remains to be seen whether Android P, whatever it will be named, will get Android users to upgrade to the latest version of the operating system.