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Android 12 is looking quite different from its predecessors, but the OS also gets a few new tricks under the hood — particularly in the privacy department. The new Android version gives you clear indicators when an app is using your camera or your microphone in the top right corner of your display, so you can never be caught off guard. But what if you want to be extra sure that no app can see or hear you? Google added two dedicated toggles for that.
As Google announced on stage, there are two new additions to the quick settings tiles: quick toggles for camera and mic access. If you really want to make sure that no one can hear or see you, even apps that you previously granted the permission, you can just toggle mic and camera access off and enjoy some peace of mind. Of course, this still isn’t as good as the physical kill switches like the ones on Nest devices, but let’s be reasonable here.
Google explains that it changed how apps work when the permission to access the camera and the mic is revoked. Applications will no longer know that they’re hindered from accessing these feeds; instead, they just see a blank video and silent audio. This helps against apps that pester you about camera and mic permissions again and again. It’s probably also what enables the two kill switches in the first place — otherwise, all apps with the permission to view your camera and listen to your audio would need to restart once the permission is revoked, due to the way Android is set up.
As mentioned, Google has also added a few more privacy measures. There’s the new Privacy Dashboard along with the approximate location permissions for apps that don’t need to know where exactly you are right now — great for weather apps and the likes. But of course, there’s much more visual stuff going on. Head to our overview of all the new design elements for more details.
On the brand new Android 12 Beta 1, the toggles are nowhere to be seen just yet, but that’s also the case for the privacy dashboard and a few design elements Google introduced during the keynote. That leaves us with some unanswered questions — for example, we don’t know if it will be possible to draw a distinction between the front and the back camera when you toggle off camera access.