Google is rolling out a security measure called Play Protect for Android devices. It’s actually just a clearer way of informing users about security scans that were already being made.
Play Protect is effectively a higher-profile user interface for the existing Verify Apps tool that regularly scans in the background to look for any potentially rogue apps, particularly ones that may have become less safe or trustworthy after an update. That’s been in place since 2014, before which the scanning only took place during installation.
Until now you had to root quite deep into settings menus (Settings > Google > Security > Verify Apps) to see what Verify Apps was up to. Under the Play Protect name it will appear both there and in the main menu of the Google Play Store App. The relevant screen adds a clearer description of what the feature actually does, along with a more reassuring green tick and the message “Looks good. No harmful apps found.”
There’ll also be a new message at the top of the “My apps & games” page in the Google Play Store app, again reassuring users that there were “No problems found” and giving the time of the last scan.
If Play Protect detects a potentially harmful app, it will stop it running and then bring up a notification warning of a potentially harmful app and letting the user remove it with a single click. In some cases apps may be removed automatically if the tool is certain they are harmful. (To avoid this, you can switch the feature off.)
Google also says if the tool finds apps from outside the Play Store, it may send a copy to Google for analysis.