Bytes: Google has added their new Anti-Malware app to the play store “Google Play Protect”. Play Protect encompasses several features that were completely separate until now. There’s malware scanning, lost phone tracking and locking, and Chrome Safe Browsing. The anti-malware features leverage Google’s machine learning platform to monitor apps for suspicious behavior, removing them from your phone before they can cause damage. You may be perplexed, wondering if Android had built-in malware scanning before. Yes, it did, but Google was very bad at making that known.
Android’s antivirus capabilities were first deployed on devices in 2013 when Jelly Bean was still the latest and greatest. At first, it only scanned apps as they were installed, but the service moved to a continuous-scanning model in 2014. Thus, even an app that didn’t look dangerous at installation could be caught red-handed if it tried to download a malicious module later. The only visible evidence of this system working was deep in the system settings, so few users even knew it was a thing.
Play Protect even lets you browse Chrome with confidence. As long as you use Chrome to surf the web on your Android phone, Google promises to keep you safe. If you visit a site that Google thinks is acting out of line, it will warn you of the danger before escorting you back to safety.
While Play Protect’s app scanning feature works automatically to keep your data and device safe, you can customize its settings via Google > Security > Verify Apps in your phone’s settings. There, you can see the data like when Google last scanned your device, whether any harmful apps were found, etc.