Google Play Protect is Not as Capable as Advertised
posted Saturday May 20, 2017 by Scott Ertz
Google is pretty excited to talk about Play Protect, their "new" system for detecting inappropriate behavior within Android apps. Google is using the technology in two places: on the Play servers and within the Play Store itself. On server, Protect should detect issues as an app is submitted by the developer and, if it fails, will reject the app from the store. On the device, regular or manual scans will look for issues within apps loaded either through the store or side-loaded, and should remove offending applications or alert you to issues.
Google describes the system saying,
Backed by the strength of Google, Play Protect brings control to your fingertips while giving guidance along the way. Together, we lay out the ideal security blanket for your mobile device. Consider yourself covered.
Google Play Protect continuously works to keep your device, data and apps safe. It actively scans your device and is constantly improving to make sure you have the latest in mobile security. Your device is automatically scanned around the clock, so you can rest easy.
All of these features sound wonderful and could potentially clean up some of the cesspool that is the Play Store, which seems like something Google is interested in doing. The biggest problem with that hope is that Play Protect is not a new system. In fact, it has been running server-side for years under various names. Even with the system in place, Google has been incapable of preventing major issues within their store.
Part of the problem comes from the definition of inappropriate behavior. What Google considers to be inappropriate is clearly not the same as what most consumers believe. For example, I personally consider a flashlight app that requires internet and contact list access to be inappropriate behavior. Play Protect does not, and allows numerous apps of that style to infiltrate the store. If Google really wants to solve the problem of privacy, safety and security in the Play Store, they need to start actually approving apps instead of responding to issues after they happen.