OFFICIAL SECURITY BLOG
July 31, 2013 | BY Armando Orozco
Last week, Google started rolling out an updated version of Jelly Bean, which has some new features. Some are covered here by our Josh Cannell.
However, what’s most interesting to me are the updates to Google Play Services and how it could impact the Android ecosystem in a positive way.
Google Play Services, an Android app that runs as a service and provides developers access to Google services like Maps, Google+, and Hangouts, that also brings in features that can be used for the overall Android operating system. It was introduced to the platform in March 2012 and began rolling out to Android 2.2 devices and up.
I know, pretty boring stuff, right? What Google Play Services brings to the plate for consumers is the ability for Google to push out OS updates without relying on OEM’s and carriers, we know that OEM’s and carriers are the bottleneck when it comes to Android updates.
It puts some of the control back into Google’s hands in terms of rolling out new features. It doesn’t help with overall OS but they can incrementally make updates.
Most of the features introduced in 4.3 are functionality related but one pertains to security, which is the Verify Apps feature. I covered this feature in one of my blogs last June, it’s pretty much a built-in app scanner. With this feature enabled, Android will interrogate apps installed outside of the Google Play store.
In Jelly Bean 4.3, Google has moved the Verify Apps feature to Google Play Services and will be available to Android versions 2.3 and up. This is significant because it is a huge feature—in my mind—to be available to older versions. This opens the door to making other features available to “outdated” devices.
No word on when this will be rolling out to customers.
To me this is pretty cool. I like that Google isn’t leaving some of its customer base behind, and Google Play Services gives every Android user an opportunity to receive updates otherwise unavailable. With Google Play Services, Google is showing that it is aware of the difficulties in getting updates to all its customers and making more and more features available to most—95 percent are using v2.3 or higher.