According to XDA Developers, recently unearthed code indicates that Android P will prevent applications from accessing a device’s camera or microphone if they happen to be running in the background. This should prove to be a boon for security conscious users who will no longer have to worry about malicious apps secretly keeping tabs on their behavior.
While Google has undeniably gotten better about bolstering overall Android security, reports of malicious apps wreaking havoc on users seem to pop up every few months. Just a few months back, for example, a piece of Android malware dubbed GhostCtrl was found to be secretly recording audio and video from a range of Android devices.
As to the Android P code in question, which was originally spotted in Android Open Source Project commit from January 19, the commit notes that any individual app found to be idle — which is to say operating in the background — will experience an error code if it attempts to activate the camera.
While this is welcome news, Slashgear brings up an interesting scenario where the aforementioned limitation might actually be something of a detriment:
There is, however, one potentially valid use case of not letting the “user” know that the camera is currently recording. There exists a class of anti-theft apps that, at a user’s request, will start recording with the front-facing camera to potentially capture images of the thief, or at least the surroundings, without alerting them to the fact. Android P’s new policy would render those features useless.
Incidentally, with the introduction of Android P inching closer with each passing week, Android O adoption remains exceedingly low. Per Google’s developer dashboard, only 1.1% of all Android devices are running the company’s latest software.