Android operating system updates work a little differently compared to Apple's iOS updates.
According to HowToGeek, there are three types of updates: the big annual firmware updates, those are when the OS is bumped up a number (for example, from 11 to 12); next, there are the smaller monthly security updates; and finally "Google Play System Updates," which HowToGeek said is another type of security update.
With the new Android 12 update, Google is now giving its users a new security feature, and it looks like it is taking a page out of its rival's book by finally allowing users to opt out of their apps collecting their data.
However, you don't have to wait that long to start protecting your private data today.
New Android Security Update
According to Gizmodo, a Google support page has generated a lot of buzz as it detailed how users can opt out of third-party tracking. Later this year, it looks like Android users can turn off sharing their Advertising ID with a switch of a button.
Advertising ID is the device identifier that lets marketers see your activity from app to app, Gizmodo explained.
This doesn't mean Android users can't already limit ad-tracking now, but this new setting will let users opt out of any alternative device identifiers that developers can also use to track their app activities.
Users who opt out of using the Advertising ID feature will show up as a "string of zeros" to developers, Google said in an email to developers according to Gizmodo.
How to Check Your Android Phone for Security Updates
To find out if your Android phone has any security updates it needs to install, go to the Settings menu. Once there, head over to Security and find the "Security Status" section, click that.
Look for "Security Update" and check the date. HowToGeek noted there's a pretty good chance it is not updated to the current month, as a lot of devices do not automatically perform the update. Newer Samsung and Google Pixel phones may be up to date, though.
Select "Security Update" and tap the "Check for Update" button and you should be all set.
Google plans to roll out the new Android 12 security update starting late 2021, according to their announcement on the support page.
How To How to Stop Android Apps From Tracking Your Private Data Now
If you can't wait for the security update later this year, you can also customize your settings to help protect your personal data today.
According to CNBC, you can stop apps from tracking your Android by heading over to Settings > Advanced > App Permissions.
Select "Location" and here you can find a list of apps that have access to your location. Go ahead and find the apps that have no business knowing where you are and turn those off.
Go back to the Settings screen and go into the Privacy tab. Under Permission Manager, you can toggle off sending diagnostic data and receiving marketing information.
Scroll down some more to the Advanced section, and you can go ahead an opt out of Ads Personalization.
Apps like Facebook have their own Facebook Pixel that tracks you, CodeInWP said. So you can just head over to your web browser, open Account Settings, click Your Facebook Information, and select "Off-Facebook Activity."
The menu to the right will have "Clear History" and "Manage Future Activity," so go ahead and clear your history and turn on "Future-Off Facebook Activity" under "Manage Future Activity."
Google tracks you as well, especially more so as an Android user, CodeInWP mentionsed. So on your web browser, head over to "Manage your Google Account" and click "Data & Personalization."
Select the "Manage Your Activity Controls" option and toggle off various tracking options the search engine giant has in its reach.
It is good to see that Google is making sure they're thinking of their users and their safety by making the new update. Privacy is something that is becoming a commodity even for regular folks and for softwares to be geared towards protecting it, that just keeps the users' trust.