Android 12's Privacy Changes Already Make It Worth Downloading

Five reasons you shouldn't sit this one out

Key Takeaways

  • Android 12 officially has reached the Android Open Source Project.
  • On top of adding new customization options, Android 12 pushes the privacy-focused features of the Android operating system further than previous OS iterations have.
  • Android 12’s various privacy-focused features already make it worth downloading even though it isn’t out on most phones just yet.
Android 12 preview on five phones

Google

Android 12 isn't even officially hitting phones just yet, but Google's privacy changes to the operating system already make it worth downloading.

When Google first debuted Android 12, it led the conversation with Material You, a new customization design platform that would allow consumers to better showcase their personality within the phones.

While Material You is one of the shining features of Android 12, the most significant and notable features come in the form of privacy updates. Now that Android 12 is out on the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), it's only a matter of time before users can make the most of these new features in an official update to their phone.

From the new Privacy Dashboard to the ability to turn camera and microphone access off with a simple toggle. Android 12 is ripe with features designed to help you keep your data private. And, it's these features that truly make the update worth downloading.

A Safer Android

The world of smart devices has been in upheaval the past few years, especially as big tech companies like Apple and Google have been pushed to provide better privacy options for their customers. While Apple has pioneered many of the privacy changes we’ve seen in mobile, Google is following suit with its own take in Android 12.

The Privacy Dashboard, a crucial part of Google's updated privacy options in the new OS, lays out all the information users need to see which apps have been using their camera, microphone, and location. It's a great way to keep track of what apps might be abusing the permissions you've given them, and can help you weed out the bad apples trying to harvest your data for their gain.

Of course, the Privacy Dashboard is only good at telling you after the fact. To help you keep track of things as they're happening, Google has added new notifications that showcase when your mic and camera are being used. Much like newer versions of iOS, Android 12 will warn users directly on the phone's screen, so they can close any apps abusing those privileges.

If you notice that these items are in use but haven't opened an app recently, Google has added a feature that lets you disable the microphone or camera directly from the quick settings drawer.

These three features all work hand-in-hand to create a safer environment on your phone, one that you have a bit more control of.

Location Is Everything

Location data is another significant data type that apps like to harvest, especially if they rely on your location to help sell you goods. In Android 12, you get a lot more control over which apps can gather your locational data, including the option to turn on the approximate location setting.

A screenshot of the location services on Android 12.

Imgur

This option forces any apps requesting your location to acquire an approximate area instead of your precise location. 

Private Computing

Previously, user requests had to be sent via the internet to get a response. Now you can have all that handled directly on your phone through a private computing core. This brings a lot of features like Now Playing, Smart Reply, and Google's Live Caption feature to a private core on your device, which means that information never leaves the safety of your phone.

If it isn't leaving the more secure areas of your device, there is less chance of your data getting pulled away or scrubbed by bad actors who might be trying to find something to use against you. Google is also constantly adding new, supported features to the Private Compute Core, though it hasn't explicitly revealed which features it plans to add next.

Ultimately, Android 12 is a solid upgrade for Android users. But, if you're someone who cares about your online privacy, then the various privacy features in Android 12 make it worth downloading as soon as it's available for your device. Unfortunately, with so many manufacturers and companies creating Android-based smartphones, it's unclear exactly when that will be.

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