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Google's PIN-encrypted Android 'Safe Folder' protects crucial documents

It's designed to safeguard files in developing countries where devices are shared.
Steve Dent, @stevetdent
August 5, 2020
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Google has introduced a new way for Android users to protect crucial files like ID documents, particularly in developing countries where devices are often shared. Called “Safe Folder” and located in the Files by Google app, it lets you protect documents, images, videos and audio files with a 4-digit PIN code, on top of your Android lock screen security. The folder is locked as soon as you switch away from the Files app, and requires a code each time you re-enter.

According to Google’s Next Billion Users product team, “sharing a personal device with spouses, siblings or children is often a cultural expectation, especially for women.” To that end, it created the feature for parents who share their phones with their kids for learning or play, or folks who need to securely store identity documents on their phones.

Google launched the Files app in 2017 as part of its Android Go endeavor for low-powered devices, but the handy app is available for all Android users. On top of giving you direct access to your downloads, received files, apps, images, video, audio and documents, it offers suggestions for freeing up space. In fact, Google said the app has deleted “over 1 trillion files of digital clutter” since it was launched. The new Safe Folder feature is now available in beta, and will roll out to more users “over the following weeks.”

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