Google is warning millions of Android users when apps might be spying on them.
The new feature alerts users when the microphone or camera has been activated.
It’s very similar to a warning that already exists on Apple’s rival iPhone.
The Google feature was added to phones in the latest Android 12 update. So if you don’t have that, you won’t be able to see it.
The new indicator appears in the top right corner of the screen.
You’ll see a camera or microphone icon when an app attempts to access either.
It prevents apps from surreptitiously listening in — or even watching through your camera.
You can also see a rolling log of which apps have access your camera, microphone or location — and when.
That information is available in the new Privacy Dashboard inside Settings.
It’s also now possible to entirely deactivate your microphone and camera across the entire phone in your Quick Settings.
It’s worth remembering that seeing an icon doesn’t mean anything nefarious is going on.
Sometimes an app genuinely needs to use your camera — like Instagram.
But if you notice that your camera is being used by a strange app, it could mean you’re being spied on.
Cyber experts have uncovered countless apps that have inappropriate access to the camera on Android phones.
So make sure you’re using Android 12, and that you stay wary of any foul play.
If you suspect something is up, you should check the app’s permissions in Settings.
You can deny specific apps access to your microphone or camera, for instance.
And if you’re really worried, you could just delete the app altogether.
Fears that apps are snooping on you have been around for years.
Just last year, the iPhone camera alert sparked fears that Instagram was secretly filming users — but it was just a bug.
Many Facebook users say they’ve spoken about something out loud, only for related ads to appear on the app soon after.
These users claim they’ve never searched for this sort of content before, and the only possible explanation is snooping.
Users figure Facebook is using your phone’s microphone to listen in on real-world conversations — to help target ads. But is it true?
Facebook has been very clear about the matter, and says it isn’t using microphone recordings to target ads better.
“Facebook does not use your phone’s microphone to inform ads or to change what you see in News Feed,” a company spokesperson said.
“Some recent articles have suggested that we must be listening to people’s conversations in order to show them relevant ads. This is not true.
“We show ads based on people’s interests and other profile information — not what you’re talking out loud about.
“We only access your microphone if you have given our app permission and if you are actively using a specific feature that requires audio.
“This might include recording a video or using an optional feature we introduced two years ago to include music or other audio in your status updates.”
There’s never been any solid evidence — beyond hearsay and anecdotes — that Facebook is recording your real-life conversations.
However, it’s entirely possible that other rogue apps could listen in on what you’re doing.
So Google’s new feature is the perfect defense for suspect apps that play fast and loose with your privacy.
If you’re still worried that Facebook is listening to you, read our handy guide.
This story originally appeared on the Sun and was reproduced here with permission.