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Android 12 will bring more control over location, camera, mic permissions

Google I/O 2021 kicked off on Tuesday, and the company unveiled a bunch of details related to the upcoming Android 12 operating system, which is now also available in beta.

With Android 12, Google hopes to get ahead of iOS 14 as far as user privacy and security is concerned by giving more control to users and bringing transparency to the entire experience.

Google announced several upcoming changes to Android 12 in the What’s new in Android session on Tuesday during the I/O event; these include a new privacy dashboard, indicators to know if any app is accessing the device’s camera or mic, more transparent location permissions, among several others.


Privacy Dashboard

Working towards transparency in-app permissions and data use, Android 12 will feature a privacy dashboard, which will give users an overview of which apps have accessed their device’s location, camera and microphone in the past 24 hours.

The feature will be available in Android 12’s next ‘beta 2’ release.


Location changes

Location permission has been a topic of several debacles in the tech space as an increasing number of apps required user location to let them access specific features of the app or the app overall.

Android 12 brings more transparency around location access by allowing users to control whether an app can access their precise or approximate location.

As a part of the location permission changes, Android 12 will also let developers decouple nearby device discovery permission, which will minimise the location data access to companion apps for watches or headphones, which don’t really need that data.

The new location features are available in Android 12’s beta 1 release.


Camera and Mic indicators

The camera and mic indicators will notify users when an app is using either of the two on their device. The list of apps using the camera and mic will be available in the quick settings menu in the notificaiton bar.

If any unwanted app is found, users will also be able to navigate straight to the app permission page and revoke camera or microphone access.

Google is also working to bring camera and mic sensor controls in Android 12, which will allow users to cut off the app’s access to the two. If any app attempts to access either, the user will be prompted to turn the sensor back on to use the app’s feature.

The feature will be available in Android 12’s next ‘beta 2’ release.


Clipboard notification

Android 12 onwards, users will also be notified when an app accessed their clipboard information, which could contain sensitive data including email ID and password. The notification won’t appear if the clipboard data is from the same app, but otherwise users will see a notification at the bottom of the screen each time an app tries to access their clipboard data.

Android 12 also gets a UI update which will adapt to the device’s wallpaper, starting with Pixel devices.

The feature will be available in Android 12’s next ‘beta 2’ release.


App hibernation

Apps that haven’t been used in a long time will be hibernated in Android 12, which will help reallocate system resources to where they’re needed more. This feature builds upon Android’s permission auto-reset that revokes app permission after remaining unused for an extended period.

Users will be able to bring these apps out of hibernation by launching them.

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