Google’s suite of security services was recently bundled and rebranded under one banner – Google Play Protect. Play Protect scans for malware in apps before you download them, and blocks them in case it comes across any inconsistency.
However, it looks like Google is also progressively extending Play Protect’s jurisdiction within its ecosystem. As a Reddit user recently spotted, Google Play Protect now also scans APK files that you might have stored in your drive storage (even in the private space). If you keep your APKs in Google drive, you won’t be able to download and install them on your Android phone if the particular app has failed verification by Play Protect.
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Of course, what Google deems as malicious or infected could be an app you are using for minor hacks or to just bend the rules a little bit. Either way, if this is the kind of stuff you are interested in, you can always find alternatives to Google drive to store your APK files.
The app in question was Lucky Patcher, an app used to trick in-app purchases. If you sideload and install the APK, you will get a warning along with an option to overlook it. You can install it anyways but will have to tolerate a permanent warning notification. If you attempt to download the APK file from Google Drive, the download will simply fail.
While you might be pissed about Google looking into and scanning your private drive space, but it sure seems that Google’s intentions behind this added layer of security are for the greater good. It makes sense for Google to restrict a malicious APK from spreading to other Android Phones. Even if an APK file is in private space, it could be shared and used to infect other phones with a private link.