Privacy is a growing concern for smartphone users. Apple has led the charge when it comes to better privacy features, but Google is also improving Android. A feature called “Privacy Dashboard” explains everything.
The privacy dashboard is a feature that debuted with Android 12. Google has put an emphasis on privacy in this release, among other things, and the Privacy Dashboard is the central location for a lot of it.
Note: At the time of writing this article, Privacy Dashboard is available in beta. Screenshots and features are subject to change ahead of public release in fall 2021.
What is the Android privacy dashboard for?
As the name suggests, the Privacy Dashboard is literally a dashboard for everything privacy related to your Android device. It’s a preview that shows which apps use which permissions and how often.
When you open the privacy dashboard from the Settings menu, you’ll notice two distinct sections. First, we’ll look at the pie chart at the top of the screen. This graph shows which permissions have been used the most in the last 24 hours in a quick and easy manner.
You can see that “Location” was used the most, followed by “Camera” and “Microphone”. This graph correlates with the list of permissions in the section below, so if you expand to “See other permissions”, those will also appear in the graph.
What exactly are we talking about here? Here are all the permissions that can be tracked in the privacy dashboard:
- Body sensors
- Call logs
- Files and Media
- Nearby devices
- Physical activity
Below the graphic are the permissions as a list. Each permission is tagged by the number of apps that used it in the last 24 hours. Select a permission to see a handy timeline of that 24-hour period.
The “Manage permission” button takes you to a menu where you can individually adjust how each application can use this permission. All of this gives you a lot of awareness and control over how your device’s sensors are used.
Where to find the privacy dashboard
As previously stated, Android 12 introduced the Privacy Dashboard. To find the feature, you’ll need a phone or tablet running Android 12 or higher.
To access the Quick settings menu, swipe down twice from the top of the screen and then tap the gear icon.
Scroll down to the “Privacy” section in settings.
Now select “Privacy Dashboard”.
That’s it! You are now looking at the privacy dashboard.
Will my phone get the privacy dashboard?
Naturally, when new Android features are announced, people want to know if their device will get them. At the time of writing, we don’t yet have a clear idea of which devices will benefit from the privacy dashboard. However, we can take clues from past functionality.
The privacy dashboard is similar to that of the Android Digital Wellbeing Suite. Digital Wellbeing came out with Android Pie in 2018, and it was exclusive to Google Pixel phones for a while. Eventually, it became available for more devices, and now it can be found on non-Pixel phones.
Based on this, we would expect a similar trajectory for the Privacy Dashboard. It will likely be a Pixel exclusive for a while and could eventually roll out to other Android devices, but it’s unclear exactly when that will happen.