Google said today that the upcoming Android L release would enable data encryption by default when users set up a new device. Previous versions of Android included the security measure as an option, but many users did not choose to activate it. Now the feature will automatically be turned on, meaning no data on the phone will be accessible without the owner’s password.
Essentially this will prevent anyone—including police—from reading stored text messages, viewing photos from the phone’s library, or checking the call history (among other things) even if allowed to do so by a court order. Apple rolled out a similar feature to its iPhone users with an update yesterday.
As reported by the Washington Post:
“For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” said company spokeswoman Niki Christoff. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won’t even have to think about turning it on.”
Android L is expected to be released later this year. The official date has not yet been announced, and the OS is still very much in development. Early builds have been available to software developers for a few months now, but the general public will still need to benefit from this change.