It has emerged that Google will add a restricted networking mode for Android 12. As reported by XDA Developers this marks one of the few details we actually know about the software update.
With Android 12 launching next months it is surprising just how little we actually know about the update. There are a few details that we have managed to glean but they are few and far between.
They include the potential to all for the hibernation of unused apps. Quite what this will look like is still unknown the aim is to help optimize storage when apps are not being used.
Another promise of Android 12 is that it will simplify third-party app store use. This means a relaxation of developer policies in response to concerns about monopolies and unfair pricing. This will also concern issues surrounding in-app payments.
However, again exactly what this will look like remains unclear. As with this new restricted networking mode from Google is not totally clear what this will entail.
Android 12 to come with restricted networking mode
Having trawled through the Android Open Source Project codebase, XDA Developers spotted something internally named "restricted networking mode". Unfortunately, this does not provide the configurable firewall so we can only decipher so much.
Reports suggest that Google has created a new firewall chain Linux iptables utility follows to allow or block network traffic. The idea is that when this is turned on only apps that hold the permission can work on the network.
Only a certain set of system applications or applications signed by the OEM can gain access to this network. This means that all applications installed by the user will be blocked.
In practice what this means is that you will still receive push notifications from apps using Firebase Cloud Messaging (FCM). However, only a handful of other system apps can send or receive data with this feature enabled.
Unfortunately, that is about all we know about this restricted networking mode. We do not know where Google will place the toggle for this mode. We also do not know if Google will allow users to create their own blocklist of apps.
It would be a massive step if Google allowed users to restrict network access to a specific set of apps. It would stop users having to rely on apps such as NetGuard. However, it remains to be seen exactly how this feature will manifest itself. We will have to wait and see when we know more next month.