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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.

You can also get more specific and turn on or off location services for specific apps or devices if you want more control. Phones, tablets, and PCs that have used your Google account tend to hang this feature around a while, and for security your best bet is to ensure you’ve wiped them properly before resale.

Go outside the circle

Along with tightening the reins on your Google account, you can also opt to go dark with some other apps and services you use.

Just like on the desktop, you can browse the web with Chrome in Incognito mode. It’s even easier if you have a Pixel as it’s one of the app shortcuts (press hand hold the Chrome icon). This doesn’t save any of your Google searches or web history to your account, however it doesn’t mean that you’re completely invisible. Your internet service provider and other information is still visible to the server you visit.

incognito mode  

Go Incognito mode if you want to browse without much of a trace.

For even stronger private browsing, there’s a toolset for using Tor on Android. Orbot uses Tor to create a proxy and scramble your Internet traffic. You then use the Orbox browser to surf the web securely. It’s so secure, it won’t even let you take a screenshot of the browsing section.

More technical users can also dive into node configuration, bridges, and relays.

tor android  

Tor browsing isn’t just for the desktop.

If you want a more conventional solution, you can always opt out of the Chrome ecosystem by going with Firefox and a different search engine. The best mostly-private option is DuckDuckGo. Not only is it a solid search engine, but none of your search history or other details are saved by the company. 

On the email front, you can get by with some more private alternatives to Gmail. One of the best is ProtonMail. It’s a popular, encrypted email service with the servers based in Switzerland. You’re not going to get all the cool tricks like travel itineraries in your Google Now feed, but you can rest assured that your email account is securely hosted.

private apps  

DuckDuckGo, Signal, and many other apps are good choices if you want to elevate your privacy.

The other area that gets a lot of attention is messaging. There are many good, private messaging options for you. Personally I’m a fan of Signal, as I find it to have the best feature set and a robust development pace. It uses end-to-end encryption, which means that only the sender and recipient are able to see the message.

 

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