After some years of expand confidentiality and security tools, the Android team is in refinement mode. Then again, when an operating system is running on more than 3 billion devices, small changes can have a big impact. And a host of new features in Android 12 not only give you more insight into what your apps are doing, but they also provide more granular options for limiting the data that those apps can access.
Android 12 is already available in beta and will officially launch in a few months. At Google’s IO Developer Conference today, however, the company is presenting small tweaks and bigger features that help you understand what’s going on behind the scenes and provide more opportunities to spot unwanted behavior from users. applications. Some of these additions are similar to features already available in Apple’s iOS. But others are advancing the sphere of privacy in new ways.
“With this release, we want to continue reducing the scope of what data apps get,” says Charmaine D’Silva, Android Group Product Manager. “It took a while to get it right, but the main focus of this release is level of transparency for users. “
Android 12 includes a “Privacy Dashboard” where you can see which apps have used potentially sensitive permissions in the past 24 hours. The dashboard breaks down app activity by category, such as “Location,” “Camera,” and “Microphone,” and then shows you which apps have accessed those mechanisms. Google will also ask developers to provide additional information on why they were using access at this particular time. And you can adjust or revoke app permissions through the dashboard. This gives more information than you might be used to about how background apps work, especially because it not only includes whether an app has accessed, for example, location data or to your microphone, but also when and for how long.
“We grant permissions to apps so they can do awesome things; it is not at all unusual to see entries on the dashboard, ”says D’Silva. “But is anything on the list surprising?” You might have given access to an app some time ago and can’t remember exactly why. We wanted to give users the full picture. “
Android 12 also introduces a green light in the top right corner of any screen that lights up if your smartphone’s microphone or camera is in use. Apple iOS 14 added a similar feature Last year. In Android, however, you can turn on the light to see more details about the app that’s using the mic or camera and why, and there’s easy access from there to revoke permission if you want to.