Google’s Play Protect service, which helps protect you from accidentally sideloading malware, is now blocking the installation of the benchmarking app AnTuTu. Google Chrome is also warning users that navigate to Antutu’s official download page that the site contains “harmful apps.” This news follows the application’s removal from the Play Store earlier this year
The news was first spotted by Xataka Android, but we don’t fully know why Google has stepped up its fight against AnTuTu specifically. The Play Protect warning claims that the app “can collect data that could be used to track you,” and Chrome’s warning just about mirrors that:
Left: Chrome’s warning at AnTuTu’s downloads page. Right: Play Protect blocking the app from being installed.
Both of these warnings can be circumvented, but they will probably be enough to stop most potential users from installing the app. We’ve tested prior AnTuTu versions, and we get the same Play Protect warning on both the latest 8.3.9 and 8.3.5 releases. However, 8.3.4 and earlier do not seem to trigger the warning.
In case you’re unfamiliar, Play Protect is a service by Google built into most Android phones (via Google Play Services) that scans apps you install for issues like malware. It’s been around for a while, but it was changed from a background service to a foreground feature back in 2017. Chrome’s warning is part of the Safe Browsing initiative that’s been around since 2007.
Earlier this year, AnTuTu was kicked from the Play Store, seemingly as part of a massive culling of Cheetah Mobile-associated apps, and this new development is almost certainly related. Though AnTuTu CEO Zhao Chen claimed at that time that his company isn’t related to Cheetah Mobile, he did admit that they are one of AnTuTu’s shareholders.
It’s technically possible that those more recent AnTuTu releases include malware of some kind, and Google is proactively doing what it can to block the installation of the app for users, but the warnings are a bit nebulous. Still, it’s unlikely Google would have done this without good reason.
We’ve reached out to both Google and AnTuTu for more information regarding this change and precisely why Google is going to such efforts to block access to AnTuTu, but neither company has responded yet. In the meantime, if you’re running an older version of the app, consider waiting a bit for the dust to settle before pulling down one of these more recent updates.