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Android P offers enhanced privacy, will prevent idle background apps from accessing camera and mic

The new Android P feature will prevent idle apps from secretly using your smartphone's camera or mic.

  • Published: May 10, 2018 1:04 PM IST
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Google released the beta version of its next major smartphone OS, Android P, at I/O 2018. The update is available for Pixel and select non-Pixel smartphones. Android P Beta brings new features, a redesigned interface, bug fixes and performance improvements, along with iPhone X-like gesture control support. Android P also brings new security features that aim to prevent idle background apps from using your smartphone’s camera and microphone.

When you install a new app on your smartphone, it asks for a number of permissions, such as an access to photos, camera, notifications, microphone, and more. Typically, most of us, just tap on “Allow” and give full access to the apps. A messaging app may need access to phone and storage, but there is no need for it to have access to camera and mic. Users who are aware of it, will not give unnecessary access, but those who are unaware, may end up giving all permissions.

“To better ensure privacy, Android P restricts access to mic, camera, and all SensorManager sensors from apps that are idle,” Google said in a blog post. “While your app’s UID is idle, the mic reports empty audio and sensors stop reporting events. Cameras used by your app are disconnected and will generate an error if the app tries to use them. In most cases, these restrictions should not introduce new issues for existing apps, but we recommend removing these requests from your apps.”

Watch: How to install Android P Beta on select smartphones

The Android System notification is present since Android Oreo update, but the icon notification is the new addition with Android P. According to a screenshot shared by Android Police, if an app is found abusing the microphone or camera permission, users will be notified about the same.

The above screenshot shows the notification panel, where an app called Lockwatch is running in the background, and the camera and mic icons are displayed on the right. Users can then tap for more information about the app, or completely stop it from running in the background.

  • Published Date: May 10, 2018 1:04 PM IST