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Android P will stop malicious apps from exploiting smartphone cameras and microphones

Developers are having fun with the next iteration of Android, with the operating system internally known as Android Pistachio Ice Cream Sandwich. What’s not fun, however, is idle applications having the ability to sneakily take photos or record audio with access to the smartphone’s camera and microphone. This is something that Google is hoping to stomp out with Android P.

Reports of Android P cracking down on user privacy come from XDA-Developers, who managed to spot an Android Open Source Project (AOSP) commit dated January 19th. When the operating system drops, it seems that applications will no longer be able to maliciously take control of the smartphone’s camera or microphone to capture something compromising from the user.

“If a User ID (UID) is idle (being in the background for more than certain amount of time) it should not be able to use the camera. If the UID becomes idle we generate an error and close the cameras for this UID. If an app in an idle UID tries to use the camera we immediately generate an error. Since apps already should handle these errors it is safe to apply this policy to all apps to protect user privacy.”

Image Credit: Android Community

This progresses from privacy efforts introduced in Android 6.0 Marshmallow, which was the first Android-based operating system to prioritise applications in the foreground and user-visible activities, however this still afforded background applications the opportunity to make use of the device’s hardware while idle.

Official information surrounding Android P is few and far between as the majority comes from leaks thanks to its open source nature, however, there’s plenty to expect from the impending operating system. It is meant to support multiple screens and foldable displays, as well as giving carriers the ability to hide signal strength and define how its displayed in the status bar entirely. Of course, Google Assistant is expected to feature prominently in the new OS, too as Google pushed further into the virtual assistant market.

KitGuru Says: So far, Android P is starting to sound like a big step up from Oreo with many quality of life and safety features rather than a plethora of gimmicks. Here’s hoping this doesn’t compromise its openness, as that is the main draw of being on Android.

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