Android Pie gives you a huge amount of control over your security and privacy. You just need to tweak all the settings to get the best out of them
Google’s Android Pie is out of the box. Following months of tweaking and testing, the new operating system has been made available to download. The Android Pie update isn’t available for all phones and manufacturers yet but it’s being slowly rolled out across devices.
Downloading and installing a new operating system always requires some device settings to be changed. So now that you’ve got Pie it’s time to have a look over the security and privacy options to make sure you’re doing the most you can to protect your personal information.
All of these choices, unless stated otherwise, can be accessed by going into Android’s Settings app and scrolling to Security & Location. Here’s what you need to do.
Set a PIN or password
Android offers you plenty of options for securing your device. The most obvious starting place is creating a PIN or password. You can add a Swipe or Pattern to unlock your phone but a PIN, which has to be at least four characters, is likely to be more secure. A password, which again has to be at least four characters long, is even better.
Most high-end smartphones have fingerprint scanners now. Android Pie supports multiple fingerprints to allow you to unlock your device. All you have to do it go to the settings and then tap your finger on the scanner a few times. In total, you can add up to five fingerprints. They can also be used to approve payments and open apps that allow biometric identification, such as banking services.
Locking your phone
Once you’ve set up a lock on your phone, you need to make sure it’s actually practical. Tapping the settings cog next to the Screen Lock option in settings lets you set how quickly your phone is locked once you stop using it: options range from immediately to 30 minutes. Whether a press of the power button locks the phone can be toggled on or off and you can set up a message to be shown on the phone’s screen when it’s locked.
Lock screen preferences allow you to modify what notifications show when they popup on the phone’s home screen. To avoid the embarrassing situation of a stranger seeing what your friends have said on WhatsApp, change the On Lock Screen setting to hide sensitive content. Once this is done you’ll be told what apps have sent you notifications but the content of new messages won’t be shown until the phone is unlocked.
A smarter lock
Inevitably, you’ll send a message on your phone, lock it, put it down and then realise you need to use the device again. The result? The phone frustratingly needs unlocking straight away. Google’s Smart Lock settings keep your phone unlocked in situations where you trust it.
Activating on-body detection will mean your phone stays unlocked when it’s in your pocket; trusted places keeps the phone unlocked in locations you set, and trusted devices means a phone will be unlocked when it’s connected to a Bluetooth device you’ve given permission to. There are also options for facial recognition and voice matching.
New in Android Pie is an option to Lockdown your device. It’s in the lock screen preferences option and can be toggled on with a quick tap. The mode adds a lockdown button to the menu you’re presented with when the power button is pressed (alongside screenshot, research and power off). If you’re ever in a situation where you don’t want people to access your phone – possibly being faced with law enforcement wanting to access your phone – the button will disable facial recognition and your phones fingerprint sensor.
While you’re in security settings, it’s a perfect time to revisit the location sharing permissions you’ve given each app. Android Pie lets you see which apps have recently requested to have access to your location and then change the app level permissions. You can toggle on or off which apps can access your location: it’s unlikely a notes app will need your exact location to function properly but it’s pretty essential for Google Maps.
Find my phone
Near the top of Android’s security options is the ability to Find My Device. When on, this allows you to track where the phone is by Googling “find my device” or visiting android.com/find.
Away from Android, setting up two-factor authentication for your Google account is the best thing you can do. The security method requires you to use a code generated by an app or received through a text message as well as your password.
It’s pretty easy to turn on and Google has an easy-to-follow guidethat will get everything sorted inside five minutes. It may add an extra step every time you have to login to your Google account but the extra protection of your data is worth it.
Get a checkup
Google has a Security Checkup which it automatically runs on all your accounts and suggests improvements. If you don’t have two-factor authentication turned on it will recommend you do, it also shows apps that may not need your password anymore, and gives you advice about any phones linked to your Google account. It’s a handy way to see if there are any insecurities with your account.
Sort your permissions
Finally, let’s move away from Android Pie’s security settings and dive into the Apps & Permissions options. Once you’re there tap on advanced and app permissions. Here you can see which apps you’re allowing to access your info. You can see – and more importantly, turn off – the apps that can access your camera, microphone, contacts, SMS, call logs and much more. It might surprise you how many different apps you let into your personal information.