The current invasion of Ukraine has seen several major tech companies step up and apply varying degrees of pressure on Russia. We’ve seen Apple completely stop selling its products in the region, we’ve seen Meta and TikTok block access to state news broadcasters RT and Sputnik, and we’ve even seen Google go so far as to suspend monetization on videos within Russia. Google is also pushing users in Ukraine to install the Ukrainian Alarm app to receive airstrike alerts, though APK Teardown has revealed that Google may be integrating airstrike alerts directly into Play Services.
Google may integrate Air Raid Alerts into Google Play Services
From what we can see, Google has added a number of threads regarding air raid warnings within Google Play Services v22.06.15. While we have posted the texts below in English, the strings are also on the app in both Ukrainian and Russian local languages.
Air Raid Warning Details Preference Key\n You may get a notification when the air raid alert is issued, and another notification when the air raid alert is canceled. The Government of Ukraine provides all air raid alert information.\n If you are in an area where the Government of Ukraine has issued an air raid alert\n " Keep in mind:\n"\n There may not be an official alert for all air raids."\n" You may not receive a notification every time an alert is issued or canceled."\n" You should not rely on the notifications as your sole source of information."\n" This feature uses only your device’s approximate location to send notifications about potential air raids. Google does not use this location information to track or identify you.\n How it works\n Air Raid Alerts Main Switch Key\n Сповіщення про повітряні тривоги в Україні\n Ukraine air raid alerts\n "The Government of Ukraine issued an alert for %s at %s. Take shelter immediately. Tap to change settings."\n Air raid alert\n "The Government of Ukraine canceled the alert for %s at %s. Tap to change settings."\n Air raid alert canceled\n Government of Ukraine alert\n Air Raid Alerts\n Air Raid All Clear
The benefit of making this functionality part of Google Play Services means that the vast majority of Android users should already be able to receive alerts on their phones, even without the app. This is because Play Services are built into every Android smartphone. It will save users from having to install a completely separate app, which may come in handy for those who may not use their phone much, may not have seen the Ukrainian alert on the Google Play Store, or may not be familiar with the technology.
Of course, none of this means that Google will sure Submit it to the users. It’s obviously being tested now, but nevertheless, it could be a feature that could save lives if a user who has not used the Ukrainian Alarm app is notified of an incoming airstrike thanks to Play Services. The nature of APK Teardown is that sometimes, we reveal unreleased features, and those unreleased features don’t always reach people’s devices.
We’ve reached out to Google for feedback and will update this post if we hear back.
Featured image: Ukraine flag by Wikimedia user UP9, use under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 license