26 September 2023

Spy phone: Identifying sneaky apps

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Claire Reid* says Android phones have a feature to let people know when an app is trying to spy on them and explains how to access it.

A feature on Android will let you know when apps are attempting to use your camera or microphone – clever, eh?

The Google feature is available on the latest Android 12 update, so you’ll need to make sure your phone is up to date before you’ll be able to use it.

When you’ve got the update a little camera or microphone icon will appear in the top-right-hand corner of the screen to let you know that an app is attempting to use either of them.

This means any apps are attempting to ‘spy’ on you, your phone will let you know.

However, just seeing either icon shouldn’t be a cause for concern as there’s probably several apps you’re happy to allow access to your camera and microphone – TikTok, for example – but if you see an icon appear when you’re using an app that doesn’t need access to your phone or mic, you can close it down and check your permissions.

You can also see a log of which apps have access to your camera or microphone and when and where they have used them.

This information is available on the Privacy Dashboard inside Settings.

If you’re some sort of spy and would like to ensure that no apps have any access to your camera or mic, you can deactivate your microphone and camera across the entire phone in your Quick Settings.

Speaking in May when the update was launched, Google said: “Android 12 includes new features that give you more transparency around which apps are accessing your data, and more controls so you can make informed choices about how much private information your apps can access.”

The company added: “We’ve added a new indicator to the top right of your status bar so you know when your apps are accessing your microphone or camera.

And if you want to remove app access to these sensors for the entire system, we’ve added two new toggles in Quick Settings.”

Apple’s iPhones have a similar feature, which was released with the iOS 14 update in September last year.

Apple wrote: “An indicator appears at the top of your screen whenever an app is using your microphone or camera.

And in Control Centre, you can see if an app has used them recently.”

The company added: “Privacy is a fundamental human right and at the core of everything we do.

That’s why with iOS 14, we’re giving you more control over the data you share and more transparency into how it’s used.”

*Claire Reid is a journalist with LADbible.

This article first appeared at ladbible.com.

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