Some of the major concerns with privacy on Android are related to the pre-installed apps that come with the every Android phone. Weather apps, camera apps, even your device’s microphone – all have embedded trackers. The good news is you can manually turn off location services and deny permissions to access your camera and microphone (opt-out). However, you will quickly find out that some of the new apps you install won’t work properly without the above permissions.  

In general, be careful with the kind of apps you install on your Android phone. Many of them might have automatic permission to access your camera and microphone (opt-out), and some apps can go on to share screenshots and videos of your app activity with third parties.

You can check all current permissions in your Settings menu and consider what kind of access you are granting to your freshly installed apps. We recommend you make it a habit to review those regularly. Tedious as it may be, reading through the apps privacy policy is always a good idea. Another alternative method to safeguard your privacy is to download a free Privacy Monitor app that shows you the privacy scores on apps.

We also recommend that you frequently check for software updates both for your device’s OS and for your apps. Software updates usually come with all the new security fixes that will protect you from the latest malicious threats and identity-stealing phishing attacks. In addition, be aware that certain older Android phones won't be supported with newer Android systems anymore, which is why it's always good advice to keep an eye out for that.

Additional privacy settings you can tweak on your Android phone:

This shows a list of your past Google searches. From here you can change what data gets stored in your device in the future and even delete your past searches and browsing history. You also have the option to completely disable the storing of your search queries and web history.

Here you can see your very own ad profile created by Google based on your tracked online activity. Google decides what ads to show you based on your ads profile. If you would rather not receive any more targeted ads when browsing Google and YouTube, choose to opt out of interest-based ads.

This shows you all the Android devices, mobile apps, games, websites, browser extensions and Google scripts that have gained full access to your personal data. If you see an item on the list that you don’t trust with your personal details, you can easily revoke its access.  

How to block trackers on your Android phone

Many Android apps constantly send trackers to third parties without notifying you. Trackers are collecting your private data and tagging you for retargeting by future ads. With so many apps on the market these days, it is almost impossible to know which ones send trackers and which ones actually respect your privacy. This is why installing an Ad Blocker is the best all-around solution for preventing your online activity being tracked. When browsing and running an ad blocker in the background you not only minimize your risk of malware and tracking, but you also get to enjoy a faster, smoother and pleasantly uncluttered browsing experience. There are free Ad Blocker browser extensions offered by most browser apps. However, they are not quite as effective as third-party alternatives.

How to block cookies on your Android phone

Cookies are bits of data sent to your device by websites you visit. They are stored in your web browser and collect personal data while keeping track of your browsing activity. You can delete cookies or even block them from your browser app’s settings, but in order to get rid all cookies once and for all it is recommended that you install a privacy-focused browser like Xayn. You can also opt for browser extensions.

Best Ad Blocker for Android

There are free Ad Blocker browser extensions offered by most browser apps but they aren’t as effective as these third-party alternatives, which are stand-alone apps:  

Very popular but not that good at blocking trackers

Famous for its ability to block those annoying Facebook “Like” trackers  

Quite possible the most effective all-purpose ad blocker out there

A highly customizable and effective ad blocker