How To Use Your Phone’s Privacy Tools

Are you worried about how apps and websites use your data? Apple’s iOS 15 and Google’s Android 12 have enhanced privacy controls this year to give you more alerts and choices when a site or service tries to use your personal information, such as a site or browser click. Here is a quick guide to this setup.


On iOS or Android, tap (or click) and select Privacy to open the Settings app. You’ll find various screens, menus, and switches that limit access to your phone’s hardware (like your microphone) and software (like your contact list) per app. Android 12 includes a privacy panel that displays updated apps and shortcuts to manage the information Google collects and stores in your Google account.

If you’re curious, we’ve published data on how Apple and Google use your data. Blocking web trackers and geolocation can make free apps work differently, and many news and cultural sites use trackers. However, if you want more control over your information, there are some specific categories that you can access.


Your phone’s location services feature can determine your location on a map, which is very important for tasks like providing driving directions. However, recent versions of iOS and Android allow you to share your approximate location instead of your exact location for privacy reasons.

Go to iOS 15 Location Services, System Services. Here you can control which applications (including Google programs) can use the coordinates to disable or enable the service, or control when you are authorized to use this information. Scroll to the top of the list and select System Services to see how iPhone uses your location, such as “important” collections like home. If you think it’s invasive, you can turn this feature off or clear the history.

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On a phone running Android 12, open the Settings app and tap Location to open the controls and to see which apps have permission to use your location. Tap Location Services to get to more settings; you can also manage the Location History setting that records your wanderings. (Google’s business model includes serving up customized ads and services based on your personal information, so your user experience may be affected.)

Apps and Ads

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency feature alerts you when an app wants to monitor your online activity, usually for targeted advertising purposes. In iOS 15 settings, tap Privacy and then Tracking to access the controls. (While Apple’s own advertising platform claims not to share personally identifiable information with others, you can turn off those ads in the Apple Advertising area of ​​your Privacy settings.)

On Android 12, open Settings and select Privacy to access a number of controls, including advertising options to prevent targeted advertising by removing your advertising ID. And this month, Google announced that Android will automatically turn off permissions for apps that haven’t been used for a while.


Los navegadores se han utilizado durante décadas para rastrearlo con cookies y otros códigos que monitorean su actividad para su uso en marketing y publicidad. (La navegación de incógnito de Safari y el modo de incógnito de Chrome conservan el almacenamiento de la sesión de navegación, pero no hacen mucho por los rastreadores del navegador).

Apple’s Safari browser includes an anti-tracking tool. Go to Settings, then Safari and scroll down to Privacy & Security to adjust. Google Chrome’s Settings also has a Privacy & Security section. Here you can request to track some sites but not others.

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Switching to a privacy-focused browser app like Brave or DuckDuckGo is another way to get rid of many web trackers. DuckDuckGo recently announced its own app tracking protection tool and email protection for the Android version of the DuckDuckGo privacy browser. This is in the public testing phase.


Some message advertisers may use “tracking pixels,” which are small hidden images that the sender reports when a message is opened. Go to Apple IOS 15 Activation Settings, then go to Privacy and click on Mail Activity Protection.

You can stop auto-uploading photos and tap Activity in the Gmail app for Android or iOS. Simply click on the Open Menu icon in the upper left corner, select Settings, Account Name as, and then select the “Check before viewing external photos…” option in the Photos area. You can block or unsubscribe from unsolicited mailing list messages at any time.

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