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4 ways your Android device is tracking you (and how to stop it)

Ben Patterson | April 14, 2015
Android keeps everything you do on your device--even voice commands. But you do have some control over the data.

You can also put your entire Google web history on pause by unchecking the big On setting at the top of the main Web & App Activity screen. Doing so stops Google from saving your web searches and browsing until your turn the feature on again. Keep in mind, though, that your previously saved web activity will stay put until you manually delete it.

Another option is to pause your web history on a particular device, like your Android phone. To do so, tap the Data from this device setting on the main Web & App Activity screen, then uncheck the On for this device setting.

Note: Another easy, albeit temporary way to keep Android from saving your searches is by turning on Chrome's private browsing feature.

Your voice commands

Your Android device keeps track of every voice command--anything from "What's the weather today?" to "Remind me to buy milk at the store."

To see--and hear--a history of your voice commands, go back to the Account History screen in the Google Settings app. Tap Voice & Audio Activity, then tap Manage History.

Scroll down to see a giant list of all the Android voice commands you've ever uttered. Just tap one of the little Play buttons to hear yourself saying each one. Interesting--and kind of weird.

As with your web history, you're free to put your voice history on pause (permanently or otherwise), and you can also delete some or all of your saved voice activity.

Tap the Settings button (shaped like a gear), then tap Remove Items. The choices are the same as they were for your web history: You can delete the past hour of your saved voice commands, the past day, a week, a month, or all of them.

To pause your voice history, go back to the main Voice & Audio Activity screen, then uncheck the On setting at the top.

Remember, though, that Android may become less adept at deciphering your commands with your voice history switched off.

Your YouTube browsing

Your YouTube searches and plays are diligently saved in your YouTube history, all in the name of helping YouTube serve up better search results and recommended video clips.

Go back to the Account Activity screen, tap YouTube Search History, then Manage History to see all your YouTube searches. (The list comprises searches from any device that's signed into your Google account.)

To remove an individual search from the list, tap its three-dot menu button, then tap Remove from Search history. You can also tap the Clear all search history button to delete the entire list. (Sorry, you can't just zap part of your history, as you can with your Google web and voice history.)


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