Android P cuts off the access of background apps to the camera

Android P cuts off the access of background apps to the camera
Despite still in development, Android P is already hyped up and pouring down is the torrential rain of new features. The latest change that awaits us could improve security, but also has the potential to backfire – in Android P, idle background apps will no longer be able to use the camera.

Back in previous Android versions, idle background apps could use the camera without notifying you and there wasn't a way to notice that yourself. No need to say it could be easily abused by app developers and you could be filmed all day long without suspecting anything. The process was easily hidden by resizing the camera viewfinder to 1 pixel, making it practically invisible on your screen, and could be done even if your screen was locked, as shown in the video below. There has been some progress regarding the issue – Android 8 forced background apps that were actively using the camera to display a notification, but the one-pixel magic was still a viable option, even though you got notified something wrong was going on.


This security-oriented change has the potential to backfire, though. Currently, there are a set of anti-theft applications on Android that are taking videos and snapshots if your device gets stolen. Most of them start filming when your password is not correctly input a set amount of times, like Prey Anti Theft. Disabling background filming could mean the option to take a snapshot of the thief will no longer be available, or at least not without his knowledge.

What's interesting is that Google is already trying to increase the privacy levels of Android users by tackling security apps for recording or tracking without warning. An example for that is the Cerberus app, which can no longer track you without notifying.

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11 Comments

1. TechSceptic

Posts: 1156; Member since: Feb 05, 2018

It's awesome to see how serious and comitted Google has been to the security of their users, as seen by their massively improved efforts in the defence of the Google Play Store and now this.

10. Nine1Sickness

Posts: 896; Member since: Jan 30, 2011

Damn, now multiple apps running in the background cannot see me while I take a dump.

2. toukale

Posts: 605; Member since: Jun 10, 2015

Android and iOS are becoming carbon copy of each other each day. It seems Google the past year or two have decided Apple's approach to how apps behave in background is the correct one on mobile.

5. sgodsell

Posts: 6737; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

iOS is nothing like Android. It is still on the opposite side because it's is extremely locked down and very restricted still. The iOS approach is to halt every task automatically, and users have no say or control over that process. How background apps run on Android could be controlled by anyone for many many years. However some users, or iOS users trying out Android are simpletons and either don't know what they are doing, or are too lazy to control what is running in the background. But Android has always given you control of what is running in the background. All that is happening here is Android is monitoring app usage and the types of resources that are being used. If the camera is being used, and the app is now running in the background. Then halt that task. The same is true for when a background task is using too much CPU resources, users will get a notification.

7. Trex95

Posts: 2320; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

Don’t forget that now you can buy whatever you want through your mobile through android pay this one of the main resaon why google looking for higher security OS.

4. burekbrigada

Posts: 25; Member since: Dec 19, 2014

Idiots! Android, starting with Marshmallow goes downhill fast. Such restrictions have sense on Apple because their app store is moderated, and exceptions are possible if app doesn't break rules of store.

8. NinoH

Posts: 128; Member since: Feb 09, 2018

Yeah, you got that right, android is still highly unoptimized mess that doesn’t give a damn about your security or privacy(coming from an ex Nexus 4,5,5x,Galaxy S7,S8 user).Offcourse Google is copying Apple and vica versa. Thats how this game is played. Anybody who says otherwise is a fool.

9. BuffaloSouce

Posts: 1175; Member since: May 01, 2017

But but but...kustom romz...

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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