Remember when Google's app verification and malware scanning service debuted with Android 4.2? No? Well, that's probably because statistically speaking, you're likely to be one of the 95% of Android users rocking 4.1 or earlier. To help address this, it looks like Google has moved the Verify Apps system to Google Play Services, which at this point should be installed on all Google Play Store-equipped Android devices running Gingerbread or higher. The change was spotted by JR Raphael at ComputerWorld.

Screenshot_2013-07-28-18-30-13 Screenshot_2013-07-28-18-30-24

Verify Apps is not to be confused with the "Bouncer," Google's Play Store watchdog that keeps an eye on the included Android apps, to greater or lesser success. This is a client-side process that actively scans apps as you install them, even when side-loading APKs, one of the major vectors of attack on unsuspecting Android users. Google has performed similar switches for all its major apps, sending updated versions through the Play Store instead of waiting on manufacturers and carriers to update hardware.

This is a positive move for Android, if only because it gives Google a chance to more widely protect older versions of the software. Combined with the new security features in Android 4.3, including a more securely-mounted /system partition and the SELinux mandatory access control system, the platform is more secure than ever... which doesn't mean you should be any less vigilant in verifying your apps, especially those that are side-loaded. Privacy-minded users can deny Google access to scan their apps when the Verify Apps system first runs.

Update: According to commenters, it looks like this change took place as much as several months ago. We haven't been able to pinpoint an exact timeframe.

Source: ComputerWorld - Thanks, Mark Gillespie!

Jeremiah Rice
Jeremiah is a US-based blogger who bought a Nexus One the day it came out and never looked back. In his spare time he watches Star Trek, cooks eggs, and completely fails to write novels.
  • HellG

    is there a way i can check/scan already installed apps once i get this update?

    • Jeremiah Rice

      If you've got Google Play Services, it should already be scanning your apps in the background.

      • Martin Nilsson

        First of all, if I'm not complete wrong here, it only scan side-loaded APKs. So no scanning of installed apps or apps in the Play Store. You can turn it on/off in the Google Settings/Services app (not sure what it's called in English). Loading an APK should issue a prompt but you might have to choose to use Google Play Services instead of the old package manager to get this prompt. This is how it looked for me the first time. The first being the "standard" and the second (verify and install) being Play Services.

  • Brendan Owens

    I think that its great that Google is moving away from system wide updates and more towards keeping devices more or less up to date via the Play Store. Good move!

    • Joseph Cascio

      I agree 100%. Now if only the stock camera and gallery app was put up. Obviously not all features would work on ever phone but still...it would be nice.

      • xunholyx

        You could always root and flash it. It's really not that hard.

        • Joseph Cascio

          Who says I don't have it already.

        • Adrian Zugaj

          But having to do so shouldn't be the case.

        • Bmg1001

          Yeah, but most people who own android don't even know what root is, besides the plant or hair meaning.

        • Chris

          Its not 2009 anymore. 95% of Android users are average joes now.

      • Chris
        • Abhijeet Mishra

          Yeah, if someone is looking for an extremely minimal camera app or just wants the AOSP camera app too badly, then it's good. Otherwise, the offerings on Samsung and HTC and Sony and basically any custom skin are better, both in terms of features and image quality (manufacturer optimization FTW in this case, not like AOSP where there seems to be zero software optimization for the camera quality)

          • Chris

            I have the EVO LTE. It has a dedicated camera button on the side. There were times that that stock Android app override that button so when pressed it opened that app, not HTCs. Also There were a few times I wanted to download an image from my dropbox to my phone. It wouldn't show up in the HTC gallery but rather the stock android one. Uninstalled the stock one that I got from the link above and everything is fine now.

  • Ryan O’Neill

    I first noticed "Verify and Install" on my stock 4.1 Razr HD several months ago...

  • Haunter

    I'm not seeing it in the Play Store? I'd like to share it with more paranoid friends running older devices. Some people enjoy that peace of mind.

    • Bojan Gutic

      Its automatically installed on all phones running. 2.3 or higher.

      • Di

        It hasn't appeared for me. I didn't even know this was an available feature until reading this post. I just last week, after a fresh rom install, re-installed all my humble bundle games and never once received the notification. I just uninstalled and re-installed a few apps and still no prompt. What gives? Is there a step I am missing? I have the latest play store and I am running a stock-based rom so I didn't manually install gapps. It doesn't give me the prompt for google play or side-loaded apps.

    • squiddy20

      Wow. Someone can't read: "To help address this, it looks like Google has moved the Verify Apps system to Google Play Services, which at this point should be running on all Google Play Store-equipped Android devices running Gingerbread or higher. "

      • Ben Enos

        You could have replied to Hunter without coming across as such a douche. Yes it was pretty clear in the article but obviously they didn't understand. No reason to give such a snotty reply to someone asking a simple question.

      • Haunter

        I read the article, but for some reason got the impression that it would be stand alone. But, I suppose being needlessly condescending to random strangers on the internet helps some people feel better about themselves. Have a nice day!

      • Chris

        Take advice from aretha franklin.

        you don't know who she is do you?

    • http://my.opera.com/rafaelluik Rafael
  • Nikolay Elenkov

    This is incorrect: the verification service is actually part of the Google Play Client app, the UI in Google Play Services UI is just flipping a switch (DB value) to enable it.

  • RodneyE.Jones

    Windows Phone Rocks❕

    • mgamerz

      Cool story bro.

      • RodneyE.Jones

        It is isn't it❔.. Thanx.

  • mgamerz

    the only issue is that this just uses a file hash if I remember previous articles. They can just make a new compilation via a bot and it'll go right past the scanner. There was an article on it a while ago wasn't there!

  • Martin Nilsson

    Yeah it popped up for me about a month ago, surprised that it took this long to get into the news. But it's great that Google now has this way to implement their own stuff separate from Android OS versions and releases =)

    And speaking of news, Android is handling external cameras differently now in 4.3. It's improved, but a bit broken. Dropped a hint about it on Twitter and Google+ for you guys =)

  • Lalit Mali

    Introduced in 4.2? Google doesn't bundle it's software with Android. It must've always been a part of Play Services/Store. No?

    • someone755

      Nope. Google bundles software with Android, since Android is lso software. Imagine buying a new PC with Windows and you get free Office. But here, everyone gets office for free!

  • Thomas’

    Pff, i've sent in this story several months ago ;-P

    • Ryan O’Neill

      Me too :{)

  • Ivan Myring

    When you say 95% don't have 4.2, does that include custom ROMs, or only things that officially run it?

  • someone755

    And then you look at the Play Services app on Play Store and everyone with 2010 phones are bitching about 'it be eatingz my memoeriaz!'.
    Ever heard of an SD-EXT partition?

  • dilharo

    I already saw this option on Google play service like 4 months away on android 4.1

  • RSerda

    This showed up as "Google Settings" App on my Nexus 4 awhile back...

  • Simon Belmont

    I noticed the scanner even on my EVO 3D running ICS with Sense 3.6. Heck, even my old HTC Hero had it (it was running Android 2.3).

    It's been like this since at least the Spring. Possibly earlier.

  • Mohan

    Ah yes I have had it for a while now, every time I update Firefox Nightly I get option to verify and install it.