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Google Unveils Android Security Update Surpassing iPhone

TL;DR: Google’s Android 15 Beta introduces a new security feature that beats iPhone: app quarantining. This, along with other recent updates, narrows the gap between Android and iPhone in terms of security and privacy. The upcoming iOS 18 release and its AI features will further impact this rivalry.

Android 15 Closes Gap with iPhone

The clear differences between Android and iPhone are quickly shrinking. Google’s latest update has further reduced that gap.

Android 15 will be a huge step forward for users in terms of security and privacy. The gap between iPhone and Android is closing fast, with little difference in features and hardware.

Apple’s privacy and security credentials have remained a standout. But Google is catching up.

Google Beats iPhone at Its Own Game

Google recently revealed that Pixel users will receive warnings when their cellular devices might have been tracked or intercepted. This beats the iPhone at its own game.

Now, another security innovation has been previewed.

The latest revelation from the Android 15 Beta surpasses the iPhone with a clever new security feature.

Android’s Quarantine Feature

Quarantining is a middle ground between letting a potentially dangerous app run wild on a device and deleting it completely.

Android could quarantine an app, putting it in a sandbox. This would contain it and prevent it from accessing data or functionality that could harm the user, without resorting to deletion.

This change may seem minor. However, because deletion is so drastic, Play Protect needs a high bar before automatically doing so. This is not the case with quarantining, allowing the system to act faster and more frequently.

Potential Future Developments

While initially seen as soft deletion, quarantining could evolve into a setting where Android can block apps with onerous permissions or unusual behaviour.

Eventually, users might even select a general privacy/risk level and have the system act accordingly.

As reported by Android Authority, quarantined apps will have:

  • Notifications disabled
  • Hidden from view
  • Ongoing activities stopped

Additionally, other apps won’t be able to access the quarantined app. This is important because malware often involves apps operating together, with one installing another.

Pre-Release Preview

As always, this is a pre-release preview. There’s no guarantee it will make it into the initial release of Android 15, if at all.

However, it aligns with the general security and privacy enhancements we’re seeing from Google.

iOS 18 and AI

Even though security updates like this further level the playing field between Android and iPhone, that might change in the fall.

When Apple releases iOS 18, we’ll see exactly what flavours of AI are included in the first full release.

While most of the excitement will relate to new AI features and capabilities, there’s also a critical security and privacy angle.

Apple may stick rigidly to on-device AI, as opposed to even the hybrid model offered by Samsung’s Galaxy AI, which is a mix of on-device and cloud.

Google’s Approach

Google has always leaned more towards the cloud side of that spectrum. Its AI is fairly limited when it cannot engage the company’s vast back-end.

The latest news that Google will combine its hardware and software teams—Pixel and Android—into a new, unified structure is interesting from an AI perspective.

This goes beyond just mobile. As The Verge reports, “the creation of a new team called ‘Platforms and Devices’ will oversee all of Google’s Pixel products, all of Android, Chrome, ChromeOS, Photos, and more.”

From a mobile perspective, this has the potential to enable better alignment between device hardware and software around AI offerings. This is a very Apple-like approach with very Apple-like privacy implications, assuming we see a push toward on-device processing.

Privacy Backlash

The potential privacy backlash that will follow AI’s push onto billions of devices is not yet understood. This will be the next battlefield, after the progress seen in recent years over app permissions and location/activity tracking.

Samsung is already heavily pushing the benefits of its hybrid approach from a privacy perspective. This will pressure Google to do more of the same.

When Apple joins the fray with iOS 18 later this year, we will assess exactly how far apart Android and iPhone remain, or if all this recent convergence is set to continue.


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