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5 things you should know about Android Q's privacy settings

Google takes steps to give you better control over your personal information in Android Q.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

One of Google's key selling points for Android Q is a new approach to keeping your personal information private. Google is giving you more control over which apps have access to your personal data, be it your calendar or location. The new Android Q privacy features come in the form of more granular location controls and a dedicated privacy section in the settings app.

Before we look at the new features, a quick reminder: Android Q is currently in beta, with an official release expected late this summer. As such, features can -- and often do -- change before release. If that happens, we'll update this post to reflect any changes. If you want to help Google test it, you can sign up for the Android Q beta and provide feedback.

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The new controls are found as options in the Settings app: Privacy and Location. There are five main things I want to point out, so let's start by taking a look at the new Privacy section, where you can control what data apps and Google services can access. 

Privacy

This section has privacy controls for the apps and services on your phone, and you can also access your Google account activity settings here.

android-q-app-permissions-control

Android Q's new permission controls make it easy to audit your apps and the data they have access to. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

First of all, the main feature of the new Privacy section is found under the Permission manager option. In that section you'll find a list of all the different permission categories, along with a list of that apps currently have access to those permissions. For example, there's a section for apps that have requested access to your calendar. Tap on the Calendar option to view the apps that currently have access, and those that don't. You can turn an app's access on or off with a tap on the toggle.

It's sort of eye-opening when you go through the list of permissions and see which apps have access to things like your microphone or contacts, and worth 10 minutes of your time to go through and make adjustments as needed. 

advanced-android-q-privacy-controls

Google also added shortcuts to your Google account privacy settings. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Secondly, in the Advanced section, you can also find controls for things like what information is shown on your lock screen, Google's Autofill service, Activity information and how you want your device to handle advertising requests. 

Location

location-access-android-q

The first time an app requests your location in Android Q, this is what you'll see. 

Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Thirdly, one change you'll likely notice right away after installing Android Q is a new prompt whenever you open an app that uses your location information. You'll now be asked if you want to grant that app access to your location all the time, even when the app is closed or running in the background, or only while you are actively using the app.

The Location section of the Settings app is where you can audit which apps have what access to your location. I was shocked to see that 53 apps have constant access to my location; that's far too many.

android-q-location-permissions

How many apps have constant access to your location? 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

A fourth thing to note: On your phone, go to Settings > Location  > App permission for a list of all the apps installed on your phone that have location permissions. Scroll through the list to view the apps and their current permission status. The list starts with apps that currently have full access to your location at the top, then goes down to "while in use" and never. Select an app to change its location permission. You have three options: Allow all the time, allow only while using or deny. It's a good idea to go back to this list once in a while to double-check your current settings. 

android-q-location-settings-advanced

Android Q's advanced location settings. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

And finally, also included in the new Location section are controls to limit whether or not apps can scan for nearby Wi-Fi networks or Bluetooth connections, along with Google-specific location controls.

Android Q has a lot of other changes, included a dedicated dark mode, a new bubbles notification feature and gesture-based navigation. Take a look at the gallery below to get a better feel for the latest flavor of Android.