Encryption will safe-guard data stored on the mobile device - but anything located in the cloud will still be fair game for law enforcement

Google has announced that the next generation of its Android operating system will encrypt data by default, making it impossible for law enforcement to scrape personal information directly from users’ smartphones and tablets.

The announcement comes less than a day after Apple announced similar measures, updating the security protocol for iOS 8 so that information stored on devices can only be unlocked using the customer’s passcode.

In both case however law enforcement will still be able to access data stored in the cloud. Photos, messages or contacts that only located on the device itself will be off limits, but both Google and Apple are still compelled by law to turn over information stored on their servers.

“For over three years Android has offered encryption, and keys are not stored off of the device, so they cannot be shared with law enforcement,” Google Niki Christoff told the Washington Post. “As part of our next Android release, encryption will be enabled by default out of the box, so you won't even have to think about turning it on.”

 Google and Apple are apparently engaged in twin campaigns to convince customers that their data is safe. Apple CEO Tim Cook has made several pointed allusions to the rival company in recent days, telling journalists that unlike other companies, the iPhone-maker was only interesting in selling hardware – not collecting personal data.

“Our business model is very straightforward,” wrote Mr Cook in an open letter. “We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers.”

Both companies have been the target of increased scrutiny from both consumers and governments, after Edward Snowden’s leaked NSA documents revealed not only widespread surveillance by US and UK spy agencies but a worrying level of collusion between the tech giants and law enforcement.