Google will start disabling Google Messages from working on “uncertified” Android devices starting March 31. This change shouldn’t affect most of you, but it does beg the question: What exactly is an “uncertified” Android device, and how do you make sure you’re not using one?
What it means when an Android device is “uncertified”
Uncertified devices have not passed Google’s Android compatibility test to ensure they meet Google’s quality and security standards. Some newer Android devices are temporarily uncertified when they’re first released, but are later certified once the process is complete. In other cases, an uncertified device could mean the manufacturer hasn’t submitted the device for Google’s certification, or that it didn’t pass.
According to Google’s support page, using an unverified Android device carries several risks and drawbacks:
- Devices that aren’t Play Protect certified may not be secure.
- Devices that aren’t Play Protect certified may not get Android system updates or app updates.
- Google apps on devices that aren’t Play Protect certified aren’t licensed and may not be real Google apps.
- Apps and features on devices that aren’t Play Protect certified may not work correctly.
- Data on devices that aren’t Play Protect certified may not back up securely.
These security risks are why Google is banning Google Messages on uncertified phones. Without the Play Store verifications, Google can’t ensure the app’s end-to-end encryption is properly configured, which could leave your messages and personal data compromised.
That said, not all uncertified android phones are dangerous. In some cases, rooting your phone or making other system-level modifications will revoke a device’s certification. Many modders can work around this, and if not, are usually performing these changes knowing the risks. Luckily, you can undo a root and restore your device’s certification status.
How to check if your phone is certified
It’s unlikely the average person is unwittingly using an uncertified Android device, especially in the U.S.—but it’s not impossible. Some uncertified devices come from well-known brands that Google no longer supports. For example, newer Huawei devices are uncertified and cannot currently apply for certification in the U.S.
You can confirm your Android phone is certified via the Google Play Store settings.
- Open the Google Play Store app.
- Tap on the three-lined button on the top-left corner of the screen.
- Select “Settings” from the sidebar.
- Scroll down to the “About” section. Under “Device Certification,” it will say either “certified” or “uncertified.”
If your device is certified, you can continue using Google Messages without any issue. If it’s not, you’ll need to find a new messaging app or a new device (or unroot your device). However, if you think your device is incorrectly “uncertified,” make sure the handset is in Google’s (long) list of supported Android devices. Contact Google and the device’s manufacturer if there’s a discrepancy.