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Google developing built-in malware scanner for Android devices?

Google is reportedly developing a built-in malware scanner for Android devices, according to code discovered by Android Police.

In looking at the string file associated with the recently updated Google Play Store, the blog found mentions of an "App Check," along with various possible menu pop-ups, like "Allow Google to check all apps installed to this device for harmful behavior?" and "Installing this app may harm your device."

As a result, it appears that your Android device might one day be able to check out the apps you have installed or are going to install on your phone and warn you if it finds something suspicious. Android Police speculated that it might be related to Google's recent acquisition of VirusTotal.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In February, Google unveiled Bouncer, which automatically scans new and existing Android apps as well as developer accounts without requiring an application approval process. Bouncer, however, alerts the developer to possible problems with their apps; this new "App Check" option appears to focus on alerting the average Android user to danger.

Sophos analyst Graham Cluley said his examination of the new code suggests that the feature will not be available until at least API level 17, or the next version of Android after 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The safety of Android apps has been a hot topic of late. Unlike Apple, which has strict app requirements and a sometimes lengthy approval process, Google allows any developer to add their apps to Google Play. This allows for more openness, but it also invites scammers to publish sketchy apps to the store.

Last week, for example, the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), issued a warning about "various malware attacking Android operating systems for mobile devices." Specifically, the agency pointed to Loozfon, an information-stealing piece of malware that pushes work-at-home opportunities, and FinFisher, spyware that can take over a mobile device.

The news, meanwhile, comes as Google unveiled a new developer console. "We hope that with a streamlined publishing flow, new language options, and new user ratings statistics, you'll have better tools for delivering great Android apps that delight users," Google said in a blog post.