Android’s openness doesn’t come without a price, and one among the foremost cited costs is security. Unlike Apple’s walled garden, Google features a hard time completely disallowing the installation of apps from third-party sources via APKs. Xiaomi, however, could be testing how to offer Google a hand with an MIUI Pure Mode that creates it a touch harder to sideload those apps. The Android maker could only encourage developers and users to patronize the Google Play Store, but the ultimate decision is ultimately in users’ hands.
Google will probably never be ready to close that sideloading door on Android, especially since it might be possible to make third-party ROMs that might allow that have anyway. Some manufacturers, including Samsung, have their app stores that depend upon this functionality, though during a more sanctioned manner than the F-droid open source app repository. That said, even those OEMs are keenly conscious of how the open mechanism can sometimes work against them if users aren’t conscious of the risks they pose.
Xiaomi is seemingly performing on a Pure Mode for its custom MIUI Android experience that adds some protection over Android’s security model. Android already warns users about installing apps from third-party sources by default, but it’s almost too easy to bypass that by tapping through the warnings. MIUI Pure Mode might enforce that policy and let users intentionally disable it if they need to and at their own risk.
Pure Mode, however, does have another key element that’s both more subtle and doubtless more critical. It’ll block any installation process within the background, which is usually the tactic employed by malware developers and hackers.
This Pure Mode is often disabled, though the knowledge doesn’t mention if the two features are often controlled independently of every other. The feature is currently in beta testing in China, and there’s no word yet on whether it’ll make it to the worldwide MIUI version by the end of the day.