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How to set up your Android phone for ultimate privacy

Derek Walter | Jan. 13, 2017
Here's how to replace all of those data-hungry apps and services with ones that don't need to know so much about you.

The most interesting addition to this section is found if you use the Google Assistant, which is what powers the artificial intelligence smarts inside the Pixel, Google Home, and Allo. Every voice interaction with Google is recorded, and you can play it back.

my activity voice  

You can play back and also delete your voice interactions with the Google Assistant.

It’s a little creepy to know your voice recordings are saved for all time. So you can delete this if you’d like. However, you’re better off acknowledging that this is one of the tradeoffs we make for having an artificial genie always at your disposal. It remembers.

This is where the “delete activity by” button can come in handy. It allows you to delete content from a specific application. Touch Filter by date & product and then select Assistant or any other app you want to seek out. This way all your voice searches, Google searches, or other interactions are sent away at once.

delete results  

You can wipe away your voice commands all at once.

Returning here often, just to see what's going on, is also a good idea as a way of ensuring your account is secure and nothing suspicious has taken place.

Location, location, location

So much of how your phone interacts with different apps and services is through your location. Think Google Maps, Google search suggestions, Uber, and other services.

One area you should check is your Google location history. This is a detailed timeline of everywhere your Android device has gone. It’s actually useful, as it’s helped me remember where I went on a certain day. However, it’s easy to understand that some may not want this saved for all time.

Head to Maps > Your timeline and you’ll see what Google has on you. Your location is saved in an attractive timeline by each day, and it even integrates with Google Photos to show which pictures you took by location.

google my location  

Every move you make is traceable inside of Google Maps.

You can tame this behavior, however. Head to Settings > Personal > Location. From here, you can see which apps have recently accessed your location. There’s also a switch to turn this off if there are particular apps you don’t want included or are turning into a battery drain.

location history  

Find out which apps and devices are using Google’s location services.

Keep in mind that shutting off all location-based tracking means no more regional tips from Google Now, gift card offers from Android Pay, or other location-based alerts. You’re also likely to get far fewer Opinion Rewards surveys since many of these come from your location.


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