Android and privacy may not appear to be natural companions at first look. After all, Google is well-known for its advertising business, which provides most of its revenue. It cannot be easy to square the notion of data collecting with the concept of tightly managed information.
Finally, it all comes down to learning about the features and choosing the most appropriate combination of privacy and features. In reality, Google provides you a lot of control over how and when it accesses your Android-related data. And you can know that the onus is entirely on you to do so. Most Google privacy valves are set to their most restrictive settings by default, allowing for the most feature-rich and ad-supported experience and the most free-flowing usage of your data. That isn’t inherently negative, but it may or may not be what you want, especially professionally. And navigating the multiple levels of settings, not only with Google but also with the different third-party services that interface with your phone, is frequently easier said than done.
So, consider this your maze guide. Here is a series of 14 Android privacy modifications, beginning with the most uncomplicated and most often recommended alterations and progressing to higher-level strategies for the most privacy-conscious users.
Work your way through the list, considering the advantages and drawbacks of each item. Before you know it, you’ll have a purposeful Android privacy strategy that’s less about defaults and more about your personal preferences.
Section I: Simple Android privacy settings that are recommended for everyone
1. Remove any unnecessary applications
- 2 minutes are necessary
- Level of inconvenience: 0/10
This initial Android privacy step is self-explanatory and something that everyone should regularly undertake: examine all of the applications on your phone and delete everything you haven’t used in the last month or two (unless it’s required by your IT department, of course). New applications not only drain your device’s resources; they also have the potential to expose sensitive information that should be kept private.
So go ahead and open your app drawer and consider every symbol you see. If you haven’t used an app in a long time, hold it down and pick Uninstall — or, if this option isn’t accessible, click App Information and then seek the Uninstall button.
You may not always be able to delete applications that come preloaded on your phone out of the box. Still, you can typically deactivate them — with the option to do so showing either in the same long-press menu or inside the aforementioned “App details” page. This will not altogether remove the app from your smartphone, but it will prevent it from operating and actively accessing any of your data.
2. Examine applications that have access to your Google account
- Time required: 2 minutes
- Level of inconvenience: 0/10
In addition to phone-specific permissions, applications and services can request access to specific categories of data within your Google account, such as contacts, Gmail messages, or even Google Drive storage. Again, such access may be wholly justified and not cause for worry (and it would be present only if you expressly permitted it at some time). Still, you don’t want to leave that avenue open after no longer actively using the connected app.
Fortunately, it’s a straightforward one to close – and yet another easy privacy step worth regularly doing. Access the Google account permissions page and go through the entire list. Click the title of any objects you no longer use or recognize, then click the blue Remove Access icon displayed beneath them.