Android Follows iOS By Introducing Sensor Indicators On Top Of The Screen

Android 12, indicator

Modern smartphones are packed with lots of sensors. How would users know which one is on, and when?

Among the ways privacy can be leaked and people can be spied on, is through their smartphone's microphone and camera sensors. When they are on, and when the device is connected to the internet, no one can know for sure which apps send which of their data to who knows what server and where.

Back in 2020, Apple introduced a feature which shows clearly which the the sensor is on, and when.

Using notifications, starting iOS 14, Apple started showing orange and green dots on top of the screen to inform users about the sensors being used.

These dots are informational indicators, designed to make users know what their phone is doing, in terms of maintaining privacy.

And this time with Android 12, Google follows Apple's lead, by introducing its own indicators.

With the feature, Android can alert users when the phone's camera or microphone has been activated.

Whenever the device's camera or microphone — even if only in the background — Android 12 will place an indicator in the upper-right corner of the screen to notify the user.

When the indicator first appears, it shows an icon that corresponds with the exact manner of access. That icon should remain visible for a second or two, after which the indicator will turn into a tiny dot.

Android built the feature to be more informative than its iOS counterpart, by allowing users to see a rolling log of which apps have access to the device's camera, microphone and location - and when.

Users can swipe down the notification bar to expand the full icon. From there, users can then tap on it to see exactly what’s involved.

For more control, users can navigate to their Android phone's updated 'Privacy Dashboard' inside Settings.

On top of this feature, Android is also allowing users to completely deactivate the microphone and camera across the entire phone in the Quick Settings.

These features were first spotted back in February 2021, on the early look at Android 12, based on documents and source code shared by Google with some its partners.

Android 12 indicators

It's worth noting that the icon is shown whenever the device's camera, microphone, or GPS sensor is turned on, regardless of the app and the reason.

For example, accessing the camera from the camera app, or opening some social media apps to take a picture, will turn on the indicator.

This is nothing out of the ordinary.

However, if the indicator is on when a user opens an app that shouldn't access the sensor, it could mean that the user is being spied on.

Things like this happen frequently.

With the indicators, users using Android 12 should be able to stay wary of any of their installed apps' trickery.

If users suspect something, they can check the app's permission, and see what's what, and quickly deny the app's access to the microphone or camera.

In the modern days of the internet and mobile, where an increasing number of people are becoming worried about being tracked, privacy is becoming one of the biggest concerns.

It echoes so loud that even Google, the company that is known to track its users no matter what, is forced to understand the boundaries that should not be trespassed.