Your Android phone (even when idle) is sending data to Google – lots of data. A recent study shows that an Android phone “communicated location information to Google 340 times during a 24-hour period” with the Chrome browser merely active in the background.
That’s a whopping ten times more data than iPhones give up.
Is there anything you can do about this?
The answer is yes. Here’s a summary of the tips provided by pcworld.comin a recent blog post.
You have a surprising amount of control over your Google account, so long as you know where to find all the switches.
Google Privacy Checkup
You can adjust the privacy settings across all your Android devices just by visiting the Settings app.
Here you’ll either find a Google tab or an Accounts tab with a Google option inside. Click on Google Account or your email address, and you’ll be taken to your full account page.
At the top of the page, you’ll see a box called Review your privacy settings, which leads to thePrivacy Checkup guide. Tap Get started for an overview of your current settings. By default, everything will be turned on, but several layers can be switched off.
Web & App Activity
This saves your searches, places, and other Google activity to your Google account. It includes browser and Google app searches as well as location data in Maps and Assistant queries.
You can turn it off by tapping the Turned on button and flip the toggle from blue to grey on the next page. Then tap Pausewhen prompted.
One downside with this is that the things you’re searching for might take longer to find because you’ll be searching without getting results explicitly tailored for your tastes.
The other downside affects Maps. You won’t be able to set Home and Work addresses. However, if you have Location History turned on, Maps will still remember your Home and Work destinations under the Driving tab. Another side effect hits Google Home. When you ask to control a smart device such as a light bulb, Assistant will tell you that it doesn’t know how to do that yet.
Location History is a timeline of the places you’ve been. It uses your phone’s GPS, Wi-Fi, and mobile networks to create a map of where you go with your phone.
You can turn it off by tapping the Turned on button to the right of “Location History” and then Manage settings on the next screen. There you’ll see a list of every device you own that’s sharing its location. You can choose to turn it off for specific devices or nuke the whole thing using the toggle at the top.
Turning off Location History means the results will be more generic, and your location won’t be saved in Maps.
This is specifically related to the phone or PC you’re using. In addition to your searches, Google can also access and save your contacts, calendars, media, and app information to your Google account. Google uses this data to recognise specific things on your device, such as contacts and appointments, to help you make calls and send messages more quickly.
To turn it off, tap theTurned on button and flip the toggle on the next page. Then tap Pausewhen prompted.
Voice & Audio Activity
Mainly for Google Assistant, it allows Google to record your voice when you tap the microphone button or summon Google Assistant to “help you get better results using your voice, “recognise the “Hey Google” wake word, and train Voice Match.
You can turn it off by tapping the Manage Voice & Audio Activity button and then Change Setting. Then flip the toggle to off.
Of course, that then means you won’t be able to summon Google Assistant using “Hey Google,” and Google won’t be able to make adjustments to how its voice recognition understands your speech pattern and cadence. You’ll still be able to use the microphone button to dictate text, however.
Other things you can do
Inside the Privacy Checkup, you’ll see toggles for YouTube search and watch history, which you can also turn off. If you’re a heavy YouTube user, these switches will make it harder for you to find recently viewed videos and get personalised recommendations.
You can also limit Google’s ability to track your Chrome history by turning on incognito mode. Instead of tapping the New tab, select New incognito tab. Your Chrome bar will turn black to let you know incognito mode has been activated. Anything you search for or view won’t appear in your browser or search history.
MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds, and surrounding villages.