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This article was published on July 13, 2017

Android 7.1.1’s panic mode rescues your screen when malware strikes

Android 7.1.1’s panic mode rescues your screen when malware strikes
Matthew Hughes
Story by

Matthew Hughes

Former TNW Reporter

Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twi Matthew Hughes is a journalist from Liverpool, England. His interests include security, startups, food, and storytelling. Follow him on Twitter.

The folks at XDA Developers have uncovered a new ‘panic mode’ in the latest-and-greatest version of Android, which can help you escape a malicious app to go straight to the home screen.

Handsets powered by Android Nougart 7.1.1 can invoke panic mode by hitting the home button four times in quick succession, letting you flee applications that hog the input queue.

This feature isn’t found in the Android documentation. Members of the XDA Developers community stumbled upon it in the AOSP source code for the Android Window Manager.

As pointed out by the folks at The Register, the feature is a welcome one, but it’s ultimately hamstrung by the fragmented nature of Android. The onus is on OEMs to integrate the feature into their phones, and none have done so as of yet.

El Reg also noted the existence of a similar feature in the current beta version of Android:

“Users report that 7.1.2, still in beta, does provide the ability to terminate an app with a long press. But again, it’s up to the phone maker to implement the option (killing the foreground app is one of the most widely requested technique on developer forums).”

As an Android fanboy (albeit a disillusioned one), this is my biggest bugbear with the platform. There are a lot of great ideas and inspired features, but the odds of using them depend entirely on whether your phone manufacturer felt like including them.

But if it eventually makes it into the mainstream, this will undoubtedly come in handy to those who take the risk of ‘acquiring’ dodgy pirated apps from less than legitimate sources.