Android 12 May Feature Built-In VPN to Make Working From Home More Secure

With work from home becoming the new normal, the demand for a secure VPN has shot up, with more people trying to connect to their company’s servers remotely. This demand gave birth to WireGuard – a next-gen VPN protocol that uses state-of-the-art cryptography standards to provide users the highest level of privacy, security, and speed, while connecting users to a remote network. Now, Google has added support for WireGuard to Android 12’s Linux Kernels, meaning that all Android 12 smartphones will come with built-in VPN, a feature already present on iOS smartphones.

WireGuard is a new VPN protocol and is considered faster than other protocols, despite having substantially less lines of code at 4,000. To compare, another VPN protocol called OpenVPN runs on 100,000 lines of code. Soon after the release, WireGuard was added to the Linux Kernel and made available in Linux 5.6. Since Android is also based on Linux, it makes sense for Google to bring native WireGuard support to Android by adding it to the Android 12 Linux Kernel 5.4 and Kernel 4.19 trees.

Google digs into each Linux Kernel release to find “patches of interest to the Android community that haven’t been merged onto mainline or Long Term Supported (LTS) kernels.” These kernels are called Android Common Kernels and they form the basis of the Linux kernel release that ships with Android.

Now, Google has recently added a number of new commits to the Android 12-5.4 tree and 4.19 tree of the Android Common Kernel. These new additions also include the WireGuard VPN protocol. A report in TechRadar quited a Linux kernel developer as saying that WireGuard will be available in Android 12 as a simple network device driver.

With every new Android release, Google supports several Linux Kernels. For instance Android 11 uses Linux Kernels 4.14 and 4.19 and Android 12 will probably use Linux Kernels 4.19 and 5.4. While today’s flagship Android devices run on Linux Kernel 4.19, the Android 12 devices flagships will run on top of Linux Kernel 5.4, and lower models will run on Linux Kernel 4.19 – both will include WireGuard support by default.