Google kept over a million bad apps out of the Play Store last year

On Wednesday, Google posted a blog discussing the steps it has been taking to continue protecting Android users from interacting with bad apps and bad developers. And Google Play Protect continues to scan billions of installed apps on billions of devices every day to protect Android users from getting mixed up in malware and other dangerous issues.

Last year Google blocked over 1 million apps that violate Google policy from being installed on Android

Has all of this scanning paid off for Google and Android users? Darn tootin’ it has. Last year Google blocked 1.2 million apps that violate policy from getting listed in the Play Store preventing billions of harmful installations from taking place. Google last year also banned 190,000 bad accounts and closed 500,000 developer accounts that have been abandoned or inactive.
This week Google launched the Data Safety Section in the Play Store that it first announced last May. With this feature, app developers have to give users a deeper dive into the privacy and security features of the apps that they download. They also have to be more transparent about how they use the data that they collect and why the data was collected in the first place.

Google is giving Pixel users some extra security with the Security hub which offers a central view of the current configuration of a Pixel user’s device. This helps to protect their phone, apps, Google Account, and passwords. In addition, Security hub also recommends how a Pixel should be set up to meet users’ needs.

Google Play Protect now also uses machine learning tools to help detect the presence of malware in apps scanned by the platform. As Google says, “Our global teams are dedicated to keeping our billions of users safe, and look forward to many exciting announcements in 2022.”

Now, when an app asks to access your location, you can decide whether to grant that permission. And if you do, you can decide whether you should give that permission for one time only, when using the app, or all of the time.

How you can change permissions granted to  Android apps for sensitive app permissions

For sensitive permissions such as for the camera, microphone, or location data, you can go to the Android privacy dashboard by tapping on Settings > Privacy > Privacy dashboard. You’ll be able to get a quick look at the apps that accessed your Location, Camera, and Microphone over the last 24 hours. You can tap on a specific app and quickly change your permissions.

For example, let’s say you follow the above directions to go to the Android privacy dashboard and tap on Camera. You see that you’ve given Instagram permission to use the camera on your phone and want to revoke that permission. So you tap on Instagram and then camera. You’ll see a page for Camera permission with the Instagram icon. You have the Camera access for the app set on “Allow only while using the app.”

You can change the setting to “Ask every time,” or “Don’t allow.” Whichever setting you decide on, you can check out all of the apps on your phone that you have set to the same setting. It is a quick and easy way to make the adjustments that you feel you need to improve the security of your handset.

Knowing what your options are when an app wants to use your phone’s camera, location data, or microphone can be the difference in having a safe and secure experience on the Android platform, or finding out that your personal data has been compromised by a bad actor and a bad app that wants to use your personal information to steal money right out of your bank account.

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