Android is a pretty secure OS for the most part which Google is constantly working to make more secure, but it still faces issues with malware. Even applications downloaded from the Play Store can go rogue, taking over a user’s entire device. In the background, Google has quietly introduced a “panic mode” that helps protect users from situations like these.

The idea behind “panic mode” is to provide the user a guaranteed way to get out of any rogue application and bring them back to the homescreen. It does so by listening to the back button on the device for whenever multiple presses are detected in rapid succession. When Android detects that, it overrides whatever application is open and causing the problem, delivering the user to their homescreen where they can uninstall the rogue app.

Google hasn’t said anything publicly about this feature, but XDA discovered it within Android’s source code over the weekend. The implementation is quite clever since rapidly pressing the back button is a common move when events like this occur.

As pointed out by XDA, though, “panic detection mode” isn’t enabled for everyone. The feature was only added in Android 7.1 Nougat and has to be specifically enabled to work. It seems likely that, for now, Google hasn’t finished this application and plans to enable it by default in future versions of the OS. Regardless, we’re glad to see Google continually working on security features like this.

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Ben Schoon

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