Your Android device is monitoring you in more ways than you might think. The whole process works under apps and default settings that allow Google to keep track of your phone usage. Remember, Google’s data policies allow it to utilize data generated from your activities in various ways.
The fact that Google collects your data through your phone should not be necessarily alarming since they do this mainly to improve their services. However, you still have the right to know when all the data collection is happening and what information they may access.
We’ve compiled a list of 10 easy ways your Android smartphone collects your information.
Google Password Manager is one handy feature on Android to help you set and manage your passwords. You no longer have to memorize or write your passwords for future reference as the feature saves them for you. Also, the Password Manager enables Google to analyze the passwords you set and offers recommendations about the safety and privacy of all your accounts.
Every time you enter your login details in Chrome or log into apps like LinkedIn or Facebook, the smartphone will prompt you to save the password. The device will then utilize the Password Manager to advise you on which password you’ve reused and the ones it considers weak. Such recommendations and reminders clearly indicate that the device has had a close look at your passwords and determined which ones are at risk.
- Location Tracking
Location tracking in Android devices seeks to provide direction, show nearby places, and provide relevant services. All devices have a location tracking tab that records your location whenever you turn it on.
The feature can tell your current location, the route you used, and frequently visited places. It means that you can find your location history for the last month in your Google Maps app and the Google account.
If you don’t want your Android smartphone to record your location, you can turn the feature off from your account settings. However, Google will be unable to tell your exact location, meaning that you’re likely to receive anonymous location data and updates from Google.
- Public Wi-Fi Networks
Android phones have a “Nearby Wi-Fi Networks” feature that lets your device search for available networks within a certain area. As a result, your device may automatically connect to open or saved Wi-Fi networks.
The location services in your Android device enable it to track your current location and search for available Wi-Fi networks around you. This way, it monitors your location to track nearby networks.
- Google Assistant
It’s easy to argue that Google Assistant has surpassed Apple’s Siri, the mobile voice assistant. The combination of Google’s power and a natural speaking format makes the Assistant one of Android’s best perks.
The Assistant can help you with lots of information or action on your phone. Some of the common commands you can direct to Google Assistant include;
- Define “Artificial Intelligence.”
- Wake me up at 8 am.
- How’s the weather?
- How do I say “Where are you” in Chinese?
You use the feature to control your device and perform multiple actions only through a voice command.
Now that the Google Assistant can take control of almost the entire device through voice commands, you bet that it tracks your data too. The tracked data include frequent actions, your frequently used app, voice patterns, location to show relevant news and weather, and much more.
If you want to experience the Assistant’s effectiveness, you have to allow it to access your location and apps. For example, when you need updates about the weather, the Assistant must be able to track your location in real-time. So, Google Assistant can access much of your functions and data, which it uses to analyze and monitor your device usage.
The pre-installed calendar app by Google has strict privacy features, but the company has apps and services that use it to analyze your device usage. You may have noticed that some Android devices struggle to connect to the internet or access servers when they can’t synchronize your Calendar. You must ensure that your date and time are perfect before accessing any online site. The Google Assistant service also relies on your device calendar to access your events and schedules. Therefore, it’s easy for the smartphone to monitor you through the Calendar app.
- Settings Backup and App Data
Data backup is crucial as it frees much of your device space and safeguards vital information. The app data and settings you back up on your Android device get saved in the cloud. The data is also stored in Google’s servers and Google Drive making it possible to monitor.
Google’s policies allow for analyzing app data and settings to monitor any malicious files and keep the backup secure. Android’s security system also monitors the backup before uploading it to the cloud to check any security concerns.
- Google Dialer, Messages App and Contacts
Your Android phone’s default contact management, dialer, and SMS apps are among the best free apps out there. The apps’ diverse features and tight integration with your Google account enable the device to monitor your frequently called contacts, call history, contacts, and much more. In the same way, the SMS app keeps track of the recent texts and frequently messaged contacts.
All data on these apps syncs to your Google account, and the device uses them to monitor your activities. This synchronization also serves as a backup of your crucial data.
- Google Analytics Tracking in Apps
Google Analytics is a marketing and SEO tool to analyze web or app performance. Google monitors all the apps on your Android devices, focusing on the history and usage patterns. Your device collects and sends the data to Google Analytics.
Pretty much any app you install might have Google Analytics code in it. The service generates a unique ID to track the usage of a specific app. The data collected is represented in the form of statistics from Google’s Machine Learning agents and advanced AI.
- Chrome Settings and Browser History
Google Chrome is the most widely used browser globally, and it has incorporated notable privacy features for users. However, Google still relies on the browser’s history and settings for relevant suggestions to enhance your Android experience. It tracks the caches, images, URLs, and other resources from the Browser history to boost performance. The only way to avoid synchronizing browser activities and history with Google account is using the Incognito Mode.
- 10.Google Photos
This Google app helps you share and store videos and photos. Google also backs up your videos and images in its servers and uses them to improve its AI and systems. Not that Google uses your photos to make adverts, but it uses the videos and pictures in the Google Photos app to train and improve its AI systems, such as album creation, face detection, and Google scan.
Google Photos may also tag the location you took the photo through your GPS data. It, therefore, means that the app also records your location indirectly.
Control Your Android Privacy
All the different data collection channels discussed above may not be malicious as Google is pretty much trustworthy. However, you need to know these channels to manage the information you like to share and what you want to keep private. Now you know and can start taking the necessary steps to improve your Android privacy.