The Android Oreo update for the OnePlus 3 & 3T started to roll out last month in the form of OxygenOS 5.0. Today, the company announced the broad availability of OxygenOS 5.0.1 which adds support for Qualcomm’s aptX HD Bluetooth audio codec, a new Adaptive screen calibration mode, December security patches, and more. Since the update started to roll out, numerous users have been greeted with a message from Google Play Protect telling them uninstall a “harmful app” called “FactoryMode.”
Numerous reports from users over on the OnePlus forums and on Reddit show that this message seems to be widespread. The message states that the FactoryMode app “contains code that attempts to bypass Android’s security protections.” This is a rather vague message, but sounds pretty concerning nonetheless. So what’s going on?
Apparently, the FactoryMode application replaces what was previously known as EngineerMode, the pre-installed system app that could be exploited by a user with physical access to a device to gain root access. OnePlus ultimately removed the code responsible for this root method, and they also chose to remove EngineerMode and rebrand it as FactoryMode.
For whatever reason, Google Play Protect has determined that there is still some code within the FactoryMode app that is potentially harmful to security. Google Play Protect works by scanning the code of apps and looking for fingerprints that match a known collection of harmful code. It’s not perfect, but the database is ever growing and totally inaccessible to users so as to hide what Google is able to detect.
As such, Play Protect does not specify what code in an app is deemed harmful. Apps such as Viper4Android have triggered this message in the past due to functionality related to changing the SELinux status. It’s possible that the FactoryMode app contains something similar. Keep in mind that the FactoryMode app is a pre-installed system application, so it already has more privileges than a standard Android app.
For now, you can ignore the request from Play Protect to uninstall FactoryMode because it’s unlikely there’s anything that is actually harmful to the user in there. However, this does still lead us to question why Play Protect is flagging FactoryMode as a harmful application in the first place, and we hope that OnePlus will have an answer on that matter in the near future. We’ve reached out to OnePlus for a comment and will update this article when we receive a response.
adb shell pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.oneplus.factorymode adb shell pm uninstall -k --user 0 com.oneplus.factorymode.specialtest
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