Google finally has an obvious way to let you know that you’re being recorded.
The new feature is simple yet effective: icons with a green background that you can easily notice at the top-right corner of your screen. There’s an icon for the microphone and another for the camera. If you see any of those two, it means an app has activated the camera and/or microphone.
Not everyone will have this feature just yet. It’s only available on Android 12 that Google released in October 2021. Unless you have a Pixel phone, you’ll have to wait for your phone’s manufacturer to support this major Android update.
Anyway, the new indicator icons will always appear as long as the camera and microphone are being used. It may be because of a legit app for legit reasons. But also, it can also be a malicious app that’s spying on you.
But the good thing is there’s also a new Privacy Dashboard added to Settings. In there you’ll have full access to the history of apps that used your camera, microphone, or location complete with the time and day of their recording activity.
With Android 12, you can also deactivate access to the camera and microphone too. Just open Quick Settings by swiping down from the top of your screen, swipe down again to display all settings, find the icons for camera and microphone access, and tap them so they look dimmed and therefore turned off.
It’s great that Google is always adding more security and privacy features. But it’s still ultimately up to you to decide if you want to stay private. Through Android’s app permissions, you can explicitly stop apps from using phone features. Better yet, you can just uninstall intrusive apps.
For iPhone users, a similar feature is available too on iOS 14. But instead of icons, a dot will appear at the upper right corner of the display. If the dot is orange, that means the microphone is being used by an app. If it’s green, then the camera (or both the camera and microphone) is being used.