Google Play Soon to Scan Android Apps for Malware

Google Play is about to become a safer place to download apps. It sounds weird to say that after all this time, but it's not terribly uncommon to find malware laying in wait -- just ask the 80,000+ users who downloaded a fake copy of Bad Piggies. With the latest update to Google Play, it's been discovered that Google has introduced a built-in malware scanner.

The folks at Android Police tore apart the APK update to 3.9.16 and here's the code they uncovered:
<string name="package_malware_title">App Check</string>
    <string name="package_malware_consent_text">"Allow Google to check all apps installed to this device for harmful behavior?
To learn more, go to Settings > Security."</string>
    <string name="package_malware_banner_warning">Installing this app may harm your device</string>
    <string name="package_malware_banner_blocked">Installation has been blocked</string>
    <string name="package_malware_recommendation_warning">Google recommends that you do not install this app.</string>
    <string name="package_malware_recommendation_blocked">To protect you, Google has blocked the installation of this app.</string>
    <string name="package_malware_app_name">App name: "%s"</string>
    <string name="package_malware_checkbox_label">I understand that this app may be dangerous.</string>
    <string name="package_malware_consent_title">Verify apps?</string>
The "App Check" portion allows Google to examine apps you've already downloaded, while a blocker function will issue a warning if an app looks shady. For people who don't want Google to scan for malware, there will be an option to turn it off. However, all this scanning goodness won't be rolled out immediately.

Android Antimalware Graphics

"Our examination of the new code in Google Play suggests that the company is building an API framework for virus-scanning in the future, and that the functionality will not be available until at least API level 17 (which will be supported in the version of the Android operating system after Android 4.1 (Jelly bean)," security firm Sophos stated in a blog post.

In the meantime, there are numerous free antivirus scanners available in Google Play, including one from Sophos.