Files by Google 1.0.315 tests a “Safe Folder” that hides and protects files with a 4-digit PIN

Files by Google 1.0.315 tests a “Safe Folder” that hides and protects files with a 4-digit PIN

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Files by Google is a file manager app that has become the de facto default file manager for Google Pixel devices on Android 11 as the AOSP Files app is now only accessible from storage settings. The latest version of the APK started to roll out recently, and it was also uploaded to APKMirror. Version 1.0.315 reveals work on a new “Safe Folder” feature that will allow you to hide and encrypt files using a 4-digit PIN.

An APK teardown can often predict features that may arrive in a future update of an application, but it is possible that any of the features we mention here may not make it in a future release. This is because these features are currently unimplemented in the live build and may be pulled at any time by the developers in a future build.

Strings for this feature were first spotted by 9to5Google earlier today, but we have fully enabled this feature in the Files by Google application. How it works is quite simple: A new “Safe Folder” button appears in the “Collections” section of the “Browse” tab. When you tap on the Safe Folder, you’ll be asked to set a 4-digit PIN. Once you set a PIN, it warns you that you can’t open the Safe Folder again if you forget the PIN. After setting up a PIN, you can move files by selecting one or more of them and then choosing “Move to Safe folder” in the menu.

Under-the-hood, files are stored in a folder called .FilesByGoogle in the root directory of the external storage (located at /data/media/{user}). The contents of this folder are hidden from other applications thanks to a .nomedia file in the directory. The files themselves seem to be encrypted, so there’s indeed no way to recover them if you forget your PIN. If you uninstall the Files by Google app, the contents of the Safe Folder will not be deleted. However, when you re-install Files by Google, it won’t be able to read the old Safe Folder contents again. You can set up a new Safe Folder using the same (or different) PIN, and all new files moved to the Safe Folder will also be saved in the .FilesByGoogle directory.

This feature is not yet available for users in the latest version of the Files by Google app. However, once it rolls out, we will let you know.

Thanks to PNF Software for providing us a license to use JEB Decompiler, a professional-grade reverse engineering tool for Android applications.