Turning on Developer Options in Android O isn't possible without authenticating one's identity, as uncovered by users running the latest developer preview of the upcoming build of Google's ubiquitous operating system. The process of navigating to the "About phone" menu and tapping one's software build number until presented with an option to access the hidden Developer Options menu of Android has now been changed, with the Mountain View-based tech giant adding an extra step to it that requires users to authenticate themselves before being allowed to use the system's Developer Options. The authentication required to enable the feature is of the standard Android variety, allowing users to confirm their identity using their password, PIN, or a pattern.
Once the software build number in the "About phone" menu has been tapped a certain amount of times, Android O will move to a system authentication screen accompanied by a vanishing prompt telling users that they are "one step away from being a developer." Likewise, successfully authenticating yourself and enabling the Developer Options section will return you to the previous screen with another ephemeral prompt that says "you are now a developer." The Developer Options protected by the authentication screen are seemingly identical to those present in all stable builds of Android Nougat.
The Alphabet-owned company likely introduced the new functionality for security purposes as having unrestricted access to the Developer Options menu of any device might allow capable and malicious individuals to compromise it or at the very least void its warranty by unlocking its bootloader. Google has yet to detail this addition in an official capacity, though the feature itself reportedly works in a reliable manner even in the second Developer Preview of Android O that isn't guaranteed to be relatively stable or free of major bugs. While it's possible that the company ultimately decides to scrap the extra authentication step, that isn't likely to happen as Google traditionally went through with implementing all of its previously experimental security features into Android. Android O is expected to hit the stable channel later this year and will initially debut on the Google Pixel, Pixel XL, as well as select Nexus-branded devices.