Android 12: Latest Updates And New Privacy Features

Marco Marchini
February 2, 2022
Android 12: Latest Updates And New Privacy Features

Discussing the latest updates of the Android operating system, we must spend some time talking about Android 12. Android 12 has been announced by Google last year and officially launched with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro in fall 2021. Despite a few initial bugs and delay on the launch, it is now up and running on many mobile phones.

“Mobile Android Version Market Share North America” (Dec 2020-Dec 2021), Chart from Statcounter

After the iOS 14 privacy-related updates, Android could not be outdone and just stand by and watch. Indeed, also Android 12 has something new about privacy. Android is, besides, the world’s most popular smartphone operating system since it runs on over 3 billion smartphones. Therefore, android latest updates do matter.

So, what are the main differences between Android 11 and Android 12?

Thanks to a few big features and performance fixes, Android 12 runs, with no doubt, way more smoothly, it gives you more information about how cookies can be used across sites and there are major changes with regards to the GAID (i.e., Google Advertising ID) usage and privacy.

Now, let’s dive deeper into the main news on the field of android latest updates and the privacy features that deserve a greater focus.

Google Advertising ID (GAID)

One topic that deserves to be covered is GAID. We often hear about IDFA (i.e., ID For Advertisers which is iOS ID), but when talking about Android 12 privacy features, we have to mention GAID (i.e., Google Advertising ID). It is not a real novelty, it already existed, but changes have been made in Android 12.

Google had already announced in spring 2021 that with Android 12 the GAID would be hidden for users who opt out of tracking and personalized advertising.

Previously, when the user opted out, the GAID was still transmitted, and third parties were allowed to use the Google Advertising ID for non-advertising purposes, such as attribution, analytics, and fraud detection. However, now, with Android 12, if a user opts out the GAID will only show a string of zeros.

Privacy Dashboard

This is one of the most discussed Android 12 privacy features. The brand-new Android 12 Privacy Dashboard allows users to have a detailed timeline of the apps that have accessed their microphone, camera, location and for how long. Sometimes you can also see a detailed explanation of why a specific permission was required. In addition, thanks to new toggles, users can block the access to camera or microphone and this can be done with a simple click.

Camera And Mic Sensor Access Indicators

In Android 12, thanks to the new Camera And Mic Sensor Access Indicators, whenever an app accesses your microphone or camera an indicator will appear in the upper-right corner of the screen. It is a green dot and if you swipe down when you see it you will be able to see the whole icon and you just need to tap on it if you want to discover which app accessed it, why, how etc.

App Hibernation

Another big news in android latest updates is App Hibernation. Basically, what it does is let an app fall into hibernation when a user has not been using it for a long time. When the app is hibernated, it will not be able to use storage or memory, because the GAID is switched off.

To sum up, it’s worth mentioning the fact that the new android 12 privacy features and policies are less strict than those introduced by Apple in their iOS 14 update. But it must be pointed out that times are changing and so are Google and Android, together with Apple: they are all responding to users’ growing demand for privacy and control over their precious personal data and Android 12 privacy features are a clear evidence of this.