Google released a file The first public release of Android 12 is at the end of October – but not for everyone. It was rolled out to Pixel phones made by Google first and is gradually rolling out to other manufacturers’ phones. Samsung is now working on making it available for its Galaxy flagships, and the likes of OnePlus, Oppo, and Realme are set to follow in the coming weeks.
The new features in Android 12 aren’t the biggest update, but Google has included a bunch of privacy and security additions. They don’t go further than the latest iPhone privacy settings in securing your data, but they’re still worth looking into.
Some new Android updates — like hibernating apps you haven’t used for a long time and making your location data less accurate — will work under the hood. But the other changes are worth the five minutes it takes to check them. While you update your phone, you should also make sure that the rest of your privacy settings are locked — Google is a company built on personal data and targeted advertising, after all.
Use the privacy dashboard
Many of the biggest privacy tweaks in Android 12 depend on the permissions you grant to the apps on your phone. When you install apps, they can request access to your camera, contacts, files, location, microphone, and many other sensors and other data sets stored on your device.
Some of these permissions are necessary for the apps to work. But not all apps need permission to access every type of data—for example, while an AR app likely needs access to the camera to function properly, a Calendar app might not.
Android 12 introduces a new privacy dashboard to help increase permission transparency. This shows which apps have access to the sensors on your phone in the last 24 hours and allows you to deny them access again. It’s a straightforward way to see which apps are running on your phone.
You can find the dashboard by going to Settings > Privacy then open up privacy control panel (You can also search for it in . format Settings). Tap the Calendar permission, for example, and you’ll see which apps are allowed to access data from your calendar and which ones aren’t. Clicking on each app individually allows you to change the settings. There is also a timeline for using the permission. Open Location Permissions, for example, and you can see minute-by-minute details of the accessed app wherever you are.
Check microphone and camera
For years, there have been rumors that Facebook is using your phone’s microphone to eavesdrop on what you say. This is not true, although Facebook tracks you in multiple ways. A new privacy setting for Android 12 helps debunk the eavesdropping myth.
When the Android app uses the phone’s microphone or camera, a small green dot will appear in the top menu bar, similar to the feature Apple added in the iOS 14 release last year. Swiping down from the top corner of the screen opens a file Quick Settings Menu, where you can immediately turn off the camera and microphone of the application. While this blocking is temporary, you can enter the individual app’s permissions from here and make the change permanent.
Delete your advertising ID
Your phone has its own advertising identifier that allows apps to associate data with your device – creating a profile about you and your interests – so that they can then serve you personalized ads based on this information. While it’s been possible to opt out of this ad customization on Android for some time, the changes in Android 12 make a slight difference.
You can now change your settings to reset the string of numbers that identifies you to a string of zeros and stop third parties from associating any information with your device in this way. (Although the change is not specifically part of Android 12, it is being rolled out to devices running the operating system first). To make the change, go to Settings > Privacy, Go to advertisements, then press Delete Ad ID. It will not mean that you will not see ads on your phone anymore, just that the ads will not depend on your behavior and personal data.
Cover the basics of Android privacy
While most of the new privacy settings in Android 12 focus on permissions, there are plenty of existing options that can help you protect your data and accounts—it doesn’t take long to change them either.
You can find the majority of Android privacy options inside a file Settings On your phone or tablet, by going to Privacy List. From here you’ll find simple toggles to turn camera and microphone access for all apps on or off; Show your passwords briefly as you type them into the fields; Turn off apps using your data to customize Android settings; And stop apps from accessing what’s in your clipboard.