Starting with Android 9 and 10, Google makes privacy and security a top priority for Android updates. Both versions bring many changes to help erase the notion that Android is not safe, but Android 11 might even defeat them.
On Android 11, Google builds on previous changes to strengthen the protection offered by their mobile OS. Many new features will go unnoticed by end users, but their impact is no less important.
1. No More Annoying Permission Prompts
Since Android 6.0, if an application requests access to something you don’t want, you can tap “Decline” at the permission prompt. Only on Android 11, when you deny permission twice, the OS interprets this as “Don’t ask again.” This will immediately ignore permission requests in the future unless you manually grant access in Settings.
2. Cameras & Microphones Are Even More Secure
Android 9 makes it to the place where the application can’t access your camera or microphone in the background. Now, even when you use it, the new ServiceType foreground attribute will control how many access applications have this sensor.
3. Improved Protection for Background Location
The application can no longer request access to your device’s location in the background via a prompt in the application. Instead, the Android 11 targeting application must create a special UI that clearly explains why the application requires a background location. This can then direct you to a system setup page where you can give this permission.
4. Scoped Storage (Again)
Android 10 introduces a new way for applications to interact with your mobile storage – mainly, it’s limited to their access to the files and folders they need. This is known as scoped storage, and let’s just say its introduction isn’t going well. This feature damages many applications, forcing Google to introduce attributes that allow them to temporarily opt out of scoped storage.
For applications targeting Android 11, they will no longer be able to use this attribute to opt out. Users can see which applications are requested to read internal storage by visiting Settings -> Privacy -> Permission manager -> Files and media. The applications under Allowed for all files meet this criteria. Note that on Android 11, this application is limited to “read-only.” Only with the new “All Access files” permission will they be able to read and write all files in shared storage, even if they cannot access application-specific directories belonging to other applications.
5. One-Time-Only Location Access
A new addition to the request for permission is the ability to restrict access to permissions only once. When selected, the application can use permissions only temporarily. When you reopen the application, it must request permission to use it again.
6. Mobile Driver License Support
Android 11 includes a support platform for safe storage and retrieval of government documents such as Cellular Driving License which complies with ISO 18013-5. It took a while before this technology was widely adopted by state agencies, but Android 11 was ready.
7. Improved Call Screening
The call filtering application can now verify the status of an incoming call STIR / SHAKEN. As a result, such applications can now tell you why the call was rejected. The post-call screen provided by the system can be adjusted to add user actions, such as marking a call as spam or adding it to your contacts.
8. Better Biometrics
Android 11 introduces categories for biometrics based on the level of authentication power. The three levels are “Strong,” “Weak,” and “Device Credentials.”
Strong is a secure face lock (creating a 3D map of cloud dots from your face), a fingerprint scanner and an iris scanner. Weak biometrics includes unlocking faces using an RGB camera. Device credentials are for the authentication method using screen lock credentials (PIN, pattern, or user password).
Application developers can now choose which biometric categories they accept for their applications. For example, when banking applications want a “Strong” level, a password-protected notepad might be okay with a “Weak” biometric level.
9. GPS Privacy
Android 11 introduces the GnssAntennaInfo class. This allows the application to use the more accurate dual frequency GNSS, which can track you in centimeters from your position. This level of tracking can jeopardize someone’s privacy, so this antenna can only identify device models and not individual devices. Additionally, this class will only be accessed by applications with location permissions.
10. Secure Audio Capture from a USB Device
When the application requests direct access to a USB audio device with recording capabilities but there is no audio recording permission, a warning message will appear asking the user to confirm this permission. Android 11 ignores the “always use” option, which requires this permission to be granted every time the application requests it.