In its ongoing effort to protect Android users from malicious mobile activities, Google plans to begin showing warnings when apps or Web sites collect personal data without their consent. The move expands on the app security measures Google added with its release of Android Oreo in August.

Announced last Friday, Dec. 1, the latest Android protections will begin showing warnings to users starting in February. Android app developers will need to abide by Google's remediation and resolution guidance to prevent such warnings from showing up on their software.

As part of its Android 8.1 update, set for release tomorrow, Google also plans to roll out a new "software experience" called Android Oreo (Go edition). The lightweight version of Google's mobile operating system is aimed at the "next billion" smartphone users around the world with entry-level, low-memory devices.

Safeguards Apply to All Apps and Functions

Under Google's coming update to its Unwanted Software Policy, apps that handle users' personal or device data will have to notify individuals with a prompt and privacy policy information. Users will also need to be informed when any app "collects and transmits personal data unrelated to the functionality of the app," according to Paul Stanton, a member of Google's Safe Browsing Team.

Before such unrelated personal data can be collected or used, "the app must prominently highlight how the user data will be used and have the user provide affirmative consent for such use," Stanton wrote in a Google Security blog post on Friday.

"These data collection requirements apply to all functions of the app," he added. "For example, during analytics and crash reportings, the list of installed packages unrelated to the app may not be transmitted from the device without prominent disclosure and affirmative consent."

The requirements apply to all Android apps, whether they're accessed via Google Play or via another non-Play app market, Stanton said.

Go Edition Targets Next Wave of Android Users

Earlier today, Google also announced the imminent launch of its new Go edition for entry-level Android devices. The Android Go initiative was first unveiled in May at Google's annual I/O developer conference.

"To make sure billions more people can get access to computing, it's important that entry-level devices are fully functioning smartphones that can browse the web and use apps," Android director of product management Sagar Kamdar said in a Google blog post today.

Arriving with tomorrow's release of Android 8.1, the Go edition will provide an optimized experience for users whose Android Oreo devices have between 512 MB and 1 GB of memory. The stripped-down Go edition includes a tailor-made Android operating system, a new set of lightweight Google apps, and a "tuned version" of the Google Play Store that highlights apps designed to work best on low-memory devices.

"We enhanced Android Oreo (Go edition) for speed and reliability on entry-level devices, which means the average app is now 15 percent faster on devices running Android Oreo (Go edition)," Kamdar said. "There are many of these kinds of optimizations -- and they really add up. If all entry level Android devices launched apps 15 percent faster, that would save the world a cumulative one million hours of time -- every day!"

According to predictions released today by the app market data company App Annie, worldwide consumer spending on apps it expected to exceed $110 billion in 2018. While games are expected to continue accounting for the largest portion of app spending, "the share of spend for apps outside of games will increase next year as its growth rate outpaces that for games," the App Annie forecast stated.

"This shift, which has been largely driven by subscriptions, is a strong reflection of the app economy's increasing maturation as the value that apps deliver to users broadens," it said. App Annie also indicated that the Android app market in the coming year will see especially strong growth in India and Brazil.

"[T]hough Brazil is a more mature market than India and further along in shifting beyond the download growth phase, it is a mobile-first country with plenty of room left for growth," the forecast stated. "Both countries have large populations of people who do not yet own smartphones. Continued increases in smartphone penetration in both of these markets will fuel future growth of total time spent, which will in turn lead to higher mobile commerce spend."