Google is adding a Restricted Networking Mode to Android 12: What does this mean?
Move over Android 11. The first Android 12 Developer Preview is expected to go live next month and there isn't much information we have on the next major software update that Google is going to roll out. A deep dive into the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) reveals limited information and the bulk of Android 12's codebase is not public, as XDA Developers reports.
However, as per reports, people have spotted evidence for some new Android features in AOSP. One of the features spotted is internally being called the “Restricted Networking Mode”. This is not a configurable firewall as one would hope for, but “it does have some interesting implications”.
As per reports, “a handful of commits merged to AOSP describe a new restricted networking mode feature”. So, Google has essentially created a firewall chain, which is a set of rules that the Linux iptables utility follows to block or allow network traffic, to make the restricted networking mode. When this mode is turned on through the Settings, only apps that have the “use restricted networks” permission will be allowed to use the network.
This permission can only be granted to privileged system applications and applications signed by the OEM. This means that network access will be blocked for all the applications that the user has installed.
This also means that you will still receive push notifications from apps that use Firebased Cloud Messaging (FCM) “since these notifications are routed through the privileged Google Play Services app that holds the requisite permission”. However, no other app, except for a bunch of other system apps, can receive or send data in the background.
It is not clear where Google will be placing the toggle for the restricted networking mode in Android 12, however, reports suggest that it can be toggled at runtime and “programmatically queried via shell command, much like Android's Data Saver feature”. It is not known whether Google will let users make their own blocklist and allowlist of apps.