Android 12: All about the Privacy Dashboard and privacy features
In my Android 12 beta 3 hands-on, I made sure to highlight privacy as one of the most relevant features of Google's new mobile OS. The idea is to further consolidate the different privacy options and make them even more accessible to users.
The Privacy Dashboard, what is it?
The Privacy Dashboard is a new feature of Android 12, in which we can easily check which applications have recently accessed permissions such as the use of the camera, location or microphone. This way it will be much easier to see how many times an application has needed to use these components. From this screen it will also be possible to revoke permissions.
To do this, it will be enough to access the system settings on Android 12:
- Open Settings;
- Go to Privacy;
- Open Privacy Dashboard.
In Dashboard privacy edge, you will be able to check what apps have accessed in the last 24 hours. The system will propose a schedule for each authorization. On this screen, you'll also have a shortcut to permission settings for every app, from files and media to sensors.
By the way, you can already see what this menu looks like on your Android 11 smartphone thanks to one of our 5 apps from last week.
In this way, it will be very quick to identify applications that abuse the resources of the smartphone and, in the event of abuse, it will be possible to remove the permissions previously granted to an application. Also, it will be possible to quickly disable some of the system functions from the quick settings panel.
Reworked quick settings panel
Additional privacy optimization can be found in the quick settings panel for system functions in Android 12. In addition to location, access to the camera and microphone can now be quickly blocked. To do this, it will be enough to follow these instructions:
- Swipe down twice from the top of the notification bar;
- Tap the pencil icon in the lower left corner of the quick settings panel (this step may change depending on your smartphone model);
- Find the Location, Microphone access and Camera access shortcuts, and add them to the quick settings panel; < li>Once it's done, just press the shortcut to block access or make it available.
Visual indicators for access to the camera or the microphone
In addition to the functions mentioned above, an alert indicating that your smartphone's microphone or camera is in use will be visible in the notifications panel of Android 12. However, it will not be the same when an application will use location. In this case, the location icon will appear in the notification bar, as it does today in Android 11.
Once triggered, the camera or microphone usage indicator will quickly show a corresponding icon in use. However, this icon will quickly turn into a small green dot in the notification bar in the right corner. This point will mean that a system functionality is used by an application. To identify it, whenever you see the green dot, follow these steps:
- Swipe your finger twice from top to bottom of the notification bar;
- The dot will then expand to take the shape of the icon of the function used: a camera or a microphone;
- Just press the icon to see the application that uses the component appear in a pop-up window.
De there you will be able to access the information of the application in question and remove the access permissions if you wish.
Android Private Compute Core
Finally, considering the latest rumors that indicate that Google may launch the new Pixel 6 and 6 Pro models on September 13, the official announcement of Android 12 would be very close. As we already know, the sixth generation of the Pixel line will be equipped with Google's new exclusive SoC: Tensor.
Among the main features of this SoC are the emphasis on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), as well as the confidentiality guaranteed by the integration of the Titan M2 module.
On the software side, we have the "Android Private Compute Core" technology, which performs the processing of personal information in Android 12 directly on the device. Thanks to this, one will have a secure partition on the system, similar to the one used to save passwords and biometric data and focused on processing data from features that use AI and ML. This means that the data will remain in a dedicated location while still being available for system-level functions.
This is how features like Live Caption, Smart Replay or Now Playing will do all the sound, content and language processing on the device, without connecting to the network to maintain user privacy. So you can receive suggestions based on your interactions with people, apps, and content privately.
How can I be sure? Each time the smartphone stores information to make personalized suggestions, these will be encrypted before being saved. The smartphone will therefore not save the information used to make personalized suggestions in your Google account, with the exception of the information used to suggest applications because if you change your smartphone, the system will still be able to recommend applications.
This way all information will be encrypted when backing up. In addition, Private Compute Core protections are open source and accessible. It will also be possible to access this function directly from the system settings:
- Open Settings;
- Go to Privacy> Private Compute Core.
From here, you will be able to understand what information is stored directly on the device, such as subtitles for videos, podcasts and calls, related actions to your notifications or text suggestions. It is also from this menu that it will be possible to deactivate keyboard suggestions or to erase data from the clipboard.
The privacy dashboard and all features identified in this article have been tested with Android 12 Beta 4 (SPB4.210715.014), on a Pixel 3. As a result, some settings or information may change. 'Here the release of the final version of Google's mobile OS, as well as depend on the model of smartphone you are using.
So, what do you think of the new privacy and transparency features in the use of OS features available in the next version of Android?