Android 7.1 Nougat Panic Detection Mode Could Help Fight Rogue Apps


Android has been on the receiving end of attacks regarding its security features. True to it, Android is not the most secure Operating System out there, partly due to its Open Source nature and also due to how it handles applications.

Android in itself, allows any application installed on a device to open itself in the background and do whatever it wants to do without any input from the user. This ease of accessibility has been the breeding ground for malware apps to sniff informations from people’s devices.

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It is not once, that I have had someone come to me and ask if WhatsApp and Instagram are now serving full-screen ads. Well, the answer is no and that ad that you see take over your screen each time you open WhatsApp is being served by an adware app. The worst part is when you try to dismiss this ad and there’s no close button and for some reason, your navigation buttons don’t work either.

Adware are slightly less harmful as it would be more detrimental if a ransomware app took over your device, disabled all your buttons and would only exit after you paid the said ransom.

Well, good news is, Google baked a rather neat “panic mode detection” feature into Android starting from Nougat 7.1.1. Normally, when such a scenario occurs, the user’s instinct is to press the back button repeatedly and this “panic” instinct is what Google is using to tame rogue apps that might want to take over your device.

The feature works this way, Android listens for frantic back button presses, not less than 4 presses, within a second. When these key presses are detected, Android overrides the running application and immediately takes the user to the home screen.

For those interested in understanding how the code works, here’s a step by step explanation.

The feature flew under the radar and is only now getting some spot light. We don’t know why Google did not make public this feature but it is good to know that it is there.

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