All the key Android 10 privacy updates explained

Android 10 has landed, complete with a new name, a new mascot, and several fun features. One of the most important aspects of the new operating system is enhanced security and improved user control over permissions. You can now fine-tune the data apps access, restrict location services based on usage, contain background app activity and best of all, do all of this from a single privacy hub in settings.

Before we get started on a roundup of the Android 10 privacy features, you can check out our step-by-step guide to installing Android 10 here. If you haven’t yet received the Android 10 update, here’s when you can expect it on your device.

Top 5 privacy features in Android 10

Android 10 Location Permissions


Getting started with Android 10 privacy features is simple, but first, let’s take a look at some of the key privacy changes Google has introduced with Android 10.

Scoped storage — With Android 10, external storage access is restricted to an app’s own files and media. This means that an app can only access files in the specific app directory, keeping the rest of your data safe. Media such as photos, videos and audio clips created by an app can be accessed and modified by it. Any further access to files will need the user’s permission.

More control over location sharing — Users now have granular control over the location data they share with apps. You can either grant location access to an app at all times, turn it off completely, or give access only while the app is in use. Android 10 will also alert you if an app has access to location data at all times. In this case, you will receive a one-time notification and can choose to alter permissions by heading to settings.

Background activity restrictions — With Android 10, apps can no longer launch activities in the background without user interaction. This is intended to minimize screen interruptions for users and give them more control over what happens on their device. Apps will now need to seek permission from users to launch background activities by sending them a notification. In some cases, for instance an alarm app, the app will be able to alert users of the alarm, but will not be able to use the whole phone screen to do so.

Restrictions on hardware identifiers — Android 10 will restrict apps from knowing the IMEI or Serial number of your device. These are device identifiers and can be misused for illegal activities like IMEI spoofing. Instead, app developers will now have to use other resettable device identifiers, unless otherwise approved by Google, your carrier, or your organisation (in case of enterprise devices). Additionally, devices that run Android 10 transmit a randomized MAC addresses (a unique number that identifies your device) by default. These changes help keep your digital identity safe.

Ability to turn off ad targeting — Many apps track users to target ads at them. Android devices have a dynamic Advertising ID which helps app developers target ads at you. With Android 10, users can opt out of ad personalization. This instructs developers not to use your Advertising ID to build profiles or show you personalised ads.

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