ANDROID now alerts users when apps may be spying on them via their device's camera or microphone.
With the release of Android's operating system (OS) 12 this past December came a slew of handy new features.
In fact, one new feature now notifies users when an app is accessing their device's camera or microphone.
The tool does this even if the app is only accessing those functions in the background.
How does it work?
Android 12 will alert you by placing an indicator in the upper-right corner of your screen.
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The indicator appears in the form of an icon that lets you know what type of access the app is trying to get.
After a second or so, the icon then changes to a tiny green dot.
How to use this tool
Android's goal with this new tool is to prevent apps from surreptitiously listening in – or even watching through your camera.
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Users can find out what's being accessed and which app is doing the accessing by swiping down.
Once you do that, the dot will expand back to that full icon, which you can then tap to see more information.
How to get more information
You can see a rolling log of which apps have access to your camera, microphone, or location – and when.
That information is available in the new Privacy Dashboard inside Settings.
It's also now possible to entirely deactivate your microphone and camera across the entire phone in your Quick Settings.
How to protect yourself
It's worth remembering that seeing an icon doesn't mean anything malicious is going on.
Sometimes an app genuinely needs to use your camera – like Instagram.
But if you notice that your camera is being used by a strange app, it could mean you're being spied on.
Cyber experts have uncovered numerous apps that have inappropriately accessed the camera on Android phones.
So make sure you're using Android 12, and that you stay wary of any foul play.
If you suspect something is up, you should check the app's permissions in Settings.
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You can deny specific apps access to your microphone or camera, for instance.
And if you're really worried, you could just delete the app altogether.
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