Since 2017, the Google Play Protect Android app has been keeping users safe from a host of mobile malware. It is true that many bad apps get out of hand, but the company has stopped a large number of bad apps from affecting users. According to Mishal Rehman (via Android Police), Google Play Protect will start scanning sideloaded apps as soon as it’s installed.
When you sideload an Android app, you get an app that’s not from the Google Play Store. There are tons of apps in the Play Store, but sideloading apps gives you a chance to download apps that are no longer available on the Play Store. These could be apps that were deleted or older versions of apps that you enjoyed more.
However, since these apps are not on the Play Store, they are not protected under Play Protect. They may contain any type of malware that can negatively impact your system. That’s why, if you really have to sideload, you do so from trusted sources.
Play Protect can scan sideloaded apps after you install them
Google Play Protect covers apps that are on the Play Store. Before you tap on to install button, you know the app has been scanned for malware. However, that coverage doesn’t actually extend to sideloaded apps. You are able to manually trigger a scan of your sideloaded apps, but it’s not just an automated process.
However, Rahman revealed that Play Protect will have some new options. One option will automatically scan side-loaded apps as soon as Play Protect is installed. This is a useful feature, because you never know if an app you sideloaded is trustworthy or not.
Another feature is coming. When you sideload an app, Google will ask you to submit that app for testing. This will allow the company to collect more data to help better detect malicious apps. Both this and the second feature are optional.
You should be able to find them by going into your settings, and Security & Privacy going again app security, You will see a gear icon at the top right of the screen. This is where you will see options. However, this does not seem to be the case right now.