Even though Android is the most popular smartphone OS globally — on more than two billion active devices — not many apps join the exclusive 1-billion-downloads club. Among those that make it, Google is unsurprisingly the most popular developer. Its latest app to pass this milestone is Files by Google.
Files by Google has come a long way in the years since its release, picking up new features and even enduring a name change. Last year an APK teardown suggested that a new feature was in the works that would allow users to favorite files and photos, exempting them from cleaning suggestions and collecting them in an easy-to-find folder. This feature is now rolling out.
One of the things that first struck me about MX Player, when I tried it out many years ago, was its swiping gestures on each side of the screen. Instead of looking for physical volume buttons or pausing the video to find the brightness controls on my phone, a simple swipe would adjust those without skipping a second. These same gestures are now available in Android's built-in video player.
The imaginatively named Files by Google app has come a long way since its debut as Files Go in 2017. Google has steadily added additional features and functionality, and the app became the default file manager in Android 11 earlier this year. Now it's primed to pick up another new feature — one that will save you from losing important files if you accidentally hit the delete button.
Files by Google made its debut a couple of years back, and Google has slowly been adding features to it. The latest additions in v1.0.33 include a PDF viewer and the ability to adjust playback speed for videos.
Just a few weeks ago, a new "safe folder" feature was spotted in development for the Files by Google app, allowing you to move files into a PIN- or password-protected folder where they would be encrypted and inaccessible to other apps. Although the feature was never formally released to consumers, XDA Developers managed to get it working. Now, two weeks later, a warning message in the app states that the unreleased feature is "no longer supported."
The second Developer Preview of Android 11 replaced the built-in file manager with Files by Google, the same application that was already present on the Play Store (and pre-installed on Android Go phones). However, the Files app on Android 11 has a slightly different appearance than the same app on Android 10 phones, and there is some added functionality.
According to a recent app teardown by the folks at 9to5Google (and further confirmation by XDA Developers, who got the feature working) the Files by Google app is picking up a new "safe folder" meant to protect files in a PIN-protected and encrypted hidden area, inaccessible to other apps. In other words, it's a porn folder.
If you're already missing Android Beam and the way it allowed you to share links or files from your device to another easily, there's some good news and bad news all rolled up into one item: Google is planning on rolling out a new "Fast Share" protocol through a Play services updates that will allow Android devices to share assets to other devices, primarily using Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct connections.