Google’s Android 10 update enhances and simplifies privacy settings

Photo (c) JasminSeidel - Getty Images

It’s worth a few minutes to find out which apps have permission to track every little detail

If you’re an Android user and noticed a nudge to do a system upgrade, you’re in for some big pluses.

After months of working out kinks and ridding the platform of bugs, Google has released the full version of Android 10. And it’s impressive.

When ConsumerAffairs took the new system update for a spin, the first thing that impressed us are the new intuitive features like gesture control that lets users do things without having to click on a button. The update also comes with digital wellbeing tools which might help curb tech addiction or just tell the user that they’ve been on their phone a little too much, and now there’s a way for parents to help guide their little ones’ online use and keep tabs on where their teenagers are.

However, the most consumer-facing upgrade comes in the way of privacy controls. Before, users would have to look all over the place to turn privacy settings on and off. Now, almost everything privacy-related is in one spot and allows the user to decide for themselves what parts of their data -- like web or app activity -- gets stored and for all long.

The privacy upgrade highlights

Under Settings/Privacy is the new, all-in-one-place section where users can review and reset their personal information and privacy settings.

Location: Users can decide which apps have permission to track location and for what length of time -- either “all the time,” “allowed only while in use,” or “denied.”

Call logs: Many people may not realize it, but they may have given apps permission to look at their phone call logs. Again, it’s up to the user to “allow” or “deny” that permission.

Calendar: This usually isn’t a big problem since apps like Gmail need access to calendars. However, it would be smart to check which apps you’re giving permission to access your calendar.

Contacts: This may be an eye-opener, so be ready. Under Settings/Privacy/Contacts, take a look at who has permission to look at your complete list of contacts. Uber? Pokemon Go? Airbnb? You might be surprised.

Physical activity: Another smart looksee! In ConsumerAffairs run-through, we found that we were giving Amazon Shopping, TuneIn Radio, and Kroger of all places the ability to track our physical activity. Again, ask yourself why and go from there.

Ad retargeting and personalization: For some reason, this is one thing that’s not under Settings/Privacy, but rather under Settings/Google. Users can opt out of ads personalization, essentially instructing apps not to use your advertising ID to build a profile or show you personalized advertisements.

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