Android L will offer default encryption just like iOS 8

Google's upcoming Android L operating system will offer default data encryption, mirroring the functionality in Apple's iOS 8 and the new iPhone 6 range.
Written by Leon Spencer, Contributor

Although Google is yet to provide details, or even an official statement, a spokesperson for the company has told The Washington Post that it plans to make data encryption the default setting for the Android L operating system, set to be released next month.

"For over three years, Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement," Google spokesperson Niki Christoff told The Washington Post. "As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on."

Encryption has been offered on some Android devices since 2011, but users have had to activate the functionality manually.

Now, Google is enabling the encryption functionality automatically, meaning that new devices loaded up with the Android L operating system will come with encryption enabled out of the box.

Apple's new mobile operating system iOS 8, which was released on Wednesday in preparation for the iPhone 6 launch today, also comes with new automatic encryption methods that prevent Apple from accessing users' data.

The encryptions offered by Apple — and now Google — mean that it will be harder for law-enforcement officials to access smartphone data without a user's pass code, even if they have a valid warrant to do so.

"Unlike our competitors, Apple cannot bypass your pass code and therefore cannot access this data," Apple said in its new privacy policy, updated on Wednesday. "So it's not technically feasible for us to respond to government warrants for the extraction of this data from devices in their possession running iOS 8."

Apple chief executive Tim Cook said in an interview with PBS' Charlie Rose that if the government "laid a subpoena" at its doors, Apple "can't provide" the data. "We don't have a key. The door is closed," he said.

Although Google officials have indicated that the company has been working on the default encryption feature for months, the search giant waited until Apple's iPhone 6 launch to make the announcement.

The move by both companies towards default encryption comes as many of Silicon Valley's largest tech players work to appease users' information privacy concerns following the revelations arising from the classified documents leaked by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year.

Apple users were also put on edge following last month's much-hyped online nude celebrity photo leak, thought to have come from iCloud backups.

As Google moves to help users keep their information private, the company is now asking app developers to make their home address public, according to Android community site Phandroid.

Phandroid said on September 18 that the Google Play Developer Console is now alerting developers to "Add a physical contact address" to their accounts starting from September 30.

The address will be publicly visible on the developer's app detail page in the Play Store, and it will be mandatory for paid apps or apps with in-app purchases to provide a physical address, according to the site. If an address is not provided, developers could run the risk of having their app removed from the store.

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