Malware marketing is not new, and while it plagued much of the desktop internet for years it was not nearly a big a concern for mobile devices until recently. Apple’s iOS devices have solved the problem by creating a walled garden of apps that are carefully curated before being offered through their own proprietary iTunes store. Android on the other hand has opted to remain open source and to allow third party developers to upload apps with much more freedom, which sounds like a great idea until you start seeing waves of infected apps negatively impacting the user experience of many Android adherents.
All technology gets temperamental now and again, but smartphones seem to be the most egregious devices, in part due to bloatware and malware that users sometimes download with knowing why their devices are suddenly slower and less responsive. Now, Android users can rest a little easier because, like Windows, Android now has its own Safe Mode for troubleshooting issues that occur. In Safe Mode, all third-party apps are disabled, which allows you to see the cause of your device’s disfunction, whether it’s source is an offending app or something more systemic and fundamental to your firmware.
Only on the most recent versions of Android, you can now press and hold the power button to bring up the Power off dialog. If you then press and hold the power button, the Safe Mode option appears. After that restart, third-party apps are grayed out and non-operational, and there’s a large Safe Mode label in the lower left corner of the screen. The make and model of your phone dictates a few more steps in the overall Safe Mode process, such as, pressing volume down or both volume buttons together when restarting to enter Safe Mode. For every Android device though, getting out of Safe Mode is as simple as rebooting one more time.
It remains to be seen whether this is an effective enough solution to a growing problem that results in fraudulent mobile clicks via botnets and other undesirable impacts that third party apps have had on the Android ecosystem, but it is definitely a sign that Google is beginning the take the potential problems associated with their open environment more seriously.
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