The next generation of Google’s Android operating system, due for release next month, will encrypt data by default for the first time, the company said Thursday, raising yet another barrier to police gaining access to the troves of personal data typically kept on smartphones, reports the Washington Post.
Android has offered optional encryption on some devices since 2011, but security experts say few users have known how to turn on the feature. Now Google is designing the activation procedures for new Android devices so that encryption happens automatically; only somebody who enters a device's password will be able to see the pictures, videos and communications stored on those smartphones.
The move offers Android, the world’s most popular operating system for smartphones, a degree of protection that resembles what Apple on Wednesday began providing for iPhones.
Both companies have now embraced a form of encryption that in most cases will make it impossible for law enforcement officials to collect evidence from smartphones – even when authorities get legally binding search warrants.