Google Play Protect isn’t waiting to scan your apps anymore

Summary

  • Google Play Protect now offers real-time threat detection by scanning sideloaded apps at the time of installation, functioning like an antivirus scanner on a desktop OS.
  • Play Protect already scans apps uploaded to the Play Store and allows manual scanning of apps and sideloaded APKs, but this update automates the scanning process for sideloaded apps.
  • The new feature is not yet available to most users, but it is expected to roll out with version 37.5 of the Play Store app in September 2023.


Google Play Protect is well known for scanning many apps — in fact, Android’s de facto antivirus tool scans more apps than there are people on Earth every day through its routine checks. Since Google Play Protect became its own app in 2021, many have speculated about what new features might be in store, and it looks like a big one is rolling out soon.

In its latest Google System Updates changelog outlining new features being added to the Android OS through app updates, Google announced that Play Protect now offers real-time threat detection thanks to install-time scanning of sideloaded apps. This was pointed out in a tweet by Mishaal Rahman, a well-known Android expert and contributor here at Android Police, which showed that Google will begin using Play Protect to scan apps downloaded outside the Play Store right at the time of installation.

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This doesn’t mean that Play Protect wasn’t scanning apps before — Google scans every app uploaded to the Play Store to check for malicious code, and it has used Play Protect for this since 2017, giving you a report for your specific installed apps in the Play Store’s settings menu. You’ve also been able to manually trigger a Play Protect scan of your apps, including sideloaded APKs, from Android’s security settings

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