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Android 12: Stop apps from accessing your data; here's how

New privacy features in Android 12 will help you prevent apps from collecting unwanted information, and turn off your camera and microphone across all apps. Here's how to use them.

Use Android 12's new privacy dashboard and settings to control what information your apps can access. 


This week, Google unveiled the redesigned Android 12 operating system at Google I/O, along with several new privacy features to give you more control over how much private information the apps on your phone can access. 

Brett Pearce/CNET

Since Android 12 is now available to download as a public beta (we're expecting a general release in September), we'll break down how to see exactly which apps can access specific information about you, and how to revoke any permissions you aren't comfortable with. 

If you have any Apple devices, this may sound familiar. With the release of iOS 14.5 earlier this month, Apple developers are required to ask people for permission to gather data and track them across apps and websites, drawing ire from companies like Facebook that rely on app tracking for advertising. It's worth noting that Android 12's privacy changes don't go this far, at least not yet. 

Whether you're planning to download the Android 12 public beta now or wait until its final release, once you do, here's how to access your new privacy dashboard to better control what your apps can see about you.

In Android 12, manage what information apps can access -- here's how

1. Open the Privacy Dashboard.

2. From the main page, you can navigate to different permissions to see which apps accessed that information in the last 24 hours. These include location, camera, microphone and contacts.

3. Tap the permission you want to view. You'll see a timeline of which apps accessed that information and when. 

4. Tap Manage permission at the bottom of the screen. This will let you change what that app can access. (You can also do this directly from each app.) 

You'll also find the ability to turn on approximate location instead of precise location, so apps that don't need to know exactly where you are (such as weather apps) won't get that level of detail. 

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Easily turn off your microphone and camera access across all apps

Another new Android 12 feature gives you more control over use of your phone's microphone and camera. Here's how to turn them on and off across your entire phone:

1. Open your Quick Settings bar. 

2. Toggle the Microphone or Camera setting on or off. 

Note that this will turn it off for the entire system, so even if you've given an app permission to access the microphone or camera in the past, this will override that permission. However, the app itself won't know you've turned it off -- it will just see a blank feed. If you toggle either your camera or microphone off, the Android system will remind you when you've opened an app that needs them. 

For more, check out the best new Android 12 features and everything else announced at Google I/O

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