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Your location data is precious. Google and Apple are finally treating it that way

Google is catching up to Apple with a small but important privacy option.

Your location data is precious. Google and Apple are finally treating it that way
[Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash]

Google will soon make it a bit easier for you to protect your precious personal data, like your location, from prying apps.

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Once the next big Android release comes out later this year, you’ll get a new “Only this time” option when apps ask for access to your mic, camera, or location data. The option is coming alongside a number of other changes to Android, many not yet announced and others throughly outlined by The Verge.

The change we’re singling out is part of a larger trend in the ways smartphone operating systems proactively help us guard our data. Apple added a similar choice to iOS in 2019, and both Apple and Google introduced alerts last year that remind users when potentially forgotten apps are quietly slurping up location data in the background.

“So far, when given the ‘While app is in use’ option, about half of users select it,” Google says on its Android developer blog. The new permission expands on this, so—if you choose—your apps can only access that data once. When you move “away from the app,” Google notes, the app “must then request permission again for the next access.”

It’s a whole lot better than having to manually revoke access to such sensitive data for apps that don’t really need to know so much about us to function.

For now, the option is only included in an early developer release of Android 11. Unless you’re a developer with a Pixel phone, your best bet is to hold tight for the final release. In the meantime, why not review your app permission settings?

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