Android’s newest update, Android N, is just around the corner. We’ve already talked about the many performance and UI improvements in Android N. But there are a bunch of security improvements included in Android N as well, and many of them are very powerful and very important.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 4 security improvements coming in Android N.
4) Direct Boot
Direct Boot fixes one of the biggest Android problems that you didn’t know existed.
Before Android N, rebooting your Android meant you had to re-enter your PIN upon reboot to activate any of its features. If you didn’t enter your PIN right away, then you could miss important texts and phone calls.
Direct Boot on Android N fixes that problem. After you restart your phone or install an update, your phone will directly boot some of its core features – like calling, alarms, and messaging functionality – without requiring you to input a PIN first.
So if your phone restarts during the night, or installs an update, then your alarm will still be activated in the morning. In previous Android systems, alarms didn’t work if your device rebooted in the middle of the night.
3) Seamless Updates
You know how after you install an Android update you have to wait a few minutes for your phone to finish “optimizing apps”? That won’t be a problem any more with Android N, which seamlessly applies software updates automatically without wasting any time.
The way Android does this is pretty neat: there will actually be two operating systems running on your phone. There’s the one you use and then one in the background. When an update arrives, the background version of your operating system will be updated and the apps will be optimized, and then the background system will become the foreground system.
It sounds crazy, but if it means faster and smoother updates, then that works for me.
2) Better Personal Data Management
Google’s machine learning capabilities are becoming incredibly powerful. If you use Google Photos, then you know how smart Google can be in the way it organizes Google Photos. The Google assistant and the AI platform that beat Go champions are two more examples of Google’s amazing AI technology at work.
Fortunately, Google claims that they’re not using all this AI technology to steal your data and sell it to advertisers (at least not yet).
In a statement to PCMag.com, Google’s search chief John Giannandrea said that no photo information, not even in aggregate, will be shared with advertisers.
Meanwhile, the Google assistant, which can collect your personal data, is not going to be monetized at first. However, John didn’t rule out monetizing the platform in the future.
Ultimately, Google can talk about personal data security all it wants, but the lack of total end-to-end encryption on Allo and Duo don’t give us a lot of confidence about Google’s “commitment” to privacy.
1) Neutralizing Stagefright
The Stagefright vulnerability has been neutralized in Android N. This was actually a series of vulnerabilities that took advantage of an Android feature where media sent to you in text messages was automatically loaded. This allowed potential attackers to take control of your Android phone with just one text message.
That sounds scary, but Stagefright vulnerability exploits were never once observed in the real world.
In any case, Android N patches the Stagefright vulnerability by improving the “underlying media framework” of Android.
These security improvements are nice. But it seems odd that Google didn’t extend these security improvements to Allo and Duo, their new chat and video apps, which only use encryption in some situations.