Late summer means new phone operating systems. Apple will deploy iOS 16 to iPhones and iPads in a few weeks. Google has released Android 13 for select phones.
The latest version of Android is more “evolution than revolution,” with tiny adjustments. Android 13 tries to simplify privacy options. This version of the OS changes app developer options and streamlines user security.
You probably don’t think much about your phone’s privacy and security. When you download a new operating system, it’s worth scrolling through options you haven’t used in a year. Here are Android 13’s highlights.
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Reduce app permissions
Android 12 added “nearby device” permissions. This prevents your headphones app from requesting your location when wirelessly connecting. Android 13 expands these restrictions to stop apps from collecting location data via Wi-Fi. App developers must mention in their code that they won’t use Wi-Fi APIs for location data.
Also updated is Android’s Privacy dashboard. The dashboard, accessible through Settings > Privacy, reveals app permissions, including camera, contacts, and other sensors and data. It will reveal which apps utilised each permission in the past seven days, not 24.
Some Android 13 privacy improvements don’t require action, but they’re worth knowing. After a short time, the OS deletes your clipboard history so programmes can’t snoop on it. Apps that use Google’s advertising ID, a device-specific code, must now indicate the authorization in their documentation. “If your app doesn’t declare this permission when targeting Android 13 or higher, the advertising ID is automatically removed,” Google says.
Photo Picker is used to use a photo you’ve taken in another programme; such as Twitter or to share images with pals. This launches a screen with your device’s photographs and lets you utilise them in the app. Android 13’s privacy tweaks mean apps won’t automatically access your photographs and videos. The photo picker now only gives the app access to your photos.
Android’s developer sites mention that if apps want to use images, audio, or video provided by other apps, they must openly say so and give unambiguous prompts.
Constant app notifications are annoying. Some notifications you may not want others to see. Android 13 makes controlling app notifications easy from the start. When you open or reopen an app, you’ll be prompted if you want notifications. Stop sending spam!
Additional Privacy and Security
While you’re thinking about your phone’s privacy settings, check out its other protection alternatives. Possible changes you missed. Most of the below settings can be adjusted in Android’s Settings.
Android’s Security section shows your device’s status. It shows when the last security update was applied, lets you install a screen lock and fingerprint or biometric unlocking (if your device supports them), and runs Google’s comprehensive security checkup on your accounts. Android will offer a Security & privacy option later this year to consolidate these options.
Change a few settings in Privacy. The Privacy dashboard shows which apps used which sensors and data in the past week. Tap Permission manager to see all the sensors and data your phone can offer apps. Location, camera, calendar, and files are included. You should check if an app needs each permission to function.
Open Google location history and Activity settings under Privacy. Both of these options are linked to your Google account(s), but the settings here let you choose how much data Google stores on you. Using these settings, you can erase browsing and activity data, Google’s location records, and YouTube search history.
Click Privacy and Ads. Reset advertisement ID lets you modify your phone’s Google ID. Apps and advertisers use your ID to follow your interests and send you weird tailored ads. As well as resetting your ad ID, you can delete it so applications couldn’t offer you tailored adverts.
Lastly, use a password manager to protect your online life and multi-factor authentication whenever possible.