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Files by Google preparing pin-protected ‘Safe folder’

In recent years, we’ve all wisely become more privacy-conscious, with more folks learning of and caring more about features like end-to-end encryption in messaging, but what about the sensitive files we keep on our phones? The Files by Google app is preparing the ability to create a pin-protected “Safe folder” on your phone.

About APK Insight: In this ‘APK Insight’ post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

‘Safe folder’

These days, almost everyone has some form of security on their phone’s lock screen, which gives your phone’s contents a simple layer of security. However, it’s normal for phone lockscreens to offer some sort of fingerprint or face unlock to make getting in easier. For some, though, this security is not nearly enough.

To that end, the Files by Google app is preparing a dedicated “Safe folder” which safely hides its files and keeps them from being accessed by other apps or by anyone other than you who has access to your phone. You’ll set a new PIN to protect the folder, which you’ll want to set to something different from your phone’s unlock PIN.

<string name=”safe_folder_label”>Safe folder</string>

<string name=”safe_folder_first_time_tooltip”>Move any files you want to keep protected by a PIN to this folder.</string>

<string name=”safe_folder_after_setup_tooltip”>Find your protected files in this folder.</string>

Importantly, to ensure the security of your files, there is no built-in method to recover the password if you ever happen to forget it — or if a bad actor tries to get to your files. While nothing explicitly states that your files are being encrypted, the fact that Files by Google can’t recover the files or password strongly suggests encryption is involved.

<string name=”remember_your_password_warning_title”>Remember your password</string>

<string name=”remember_your_password_warning_description”>”Safe folder can’t be opened again if you forget the password.”</string>

<string name=”remember_your_password_warning_button”>Got it</string>

Once you’ve set up your Safe folder, Files by Google app will offer the option to move individual files into your Safe folder. Of course, to maintain security, you need to enter your Safe folder’s PIN before your files can be moved.

<string name=”move_into_safe_folder_menu_text”>Move to Safe folder</string>

<string name=”move_out_of_safe_folder_menu_text”>Move out of Safe folder</string>

<string name=”confirm_pin_to_move_title”>Confirm PIN to move</string>

This “Safe folder” is a very privacy-forward move from Files by Google, but not a surprising one. Samsung has offered an official way for their phones to encrypt files and even apps in what they call a Secure Folder.

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Avatar for Kyle Bradshaw Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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