Latest Android Release May Have Battery, Data and Privacy Issues

Here’s a quick heads up for the parents out there whose kids have Android phones.

By now, cell phone users who understand how GPS location tracking works and what it’s for understand how to navigate the controls on their phone. That may have changed with the latest Android update.

Google Play logo squareIn general, the way it works is that you can turn location on or off for your phone entirely. If you have location turned on, you can secondarily control whether it is on or off for each app that you use, and for each app, whether it is on all the time or only when you are using that app. The system works as described and makes sense. You might want to use location for Google Maps, or to find a restaurant on Yelp, but you might not want Facebook, Google and advertisers to know where you are every minute of the day.

According to a very good article at Naked Security, Google may have changed the game for Android users via its Google Play platform:

“…the Google Play services app…can only be denied access to your location data if you turn location collection off entirely. In other words, if you want to allow even a solitary third-party app to have access to your geolocation data, you have to let the Google Play at that data, too.

And Google really does want to know where you are, because the moment-by-moment detail of your movements is worth money to Google, who can sell that data to advertisers in real time, for example as you walk near, walk into and then walk around a store.”

Having your location turned on all the time is less than optimal for 3 reasons:

  • It’s bad for your battery life. Google Play is constantly “working” in the background to keep track of where you are.
  • It’s a data hog. There’s a constant stream of cellular data communicating your location.
  • It’s a privacy issue. Never being able to conceal your location from Google and advertisers seems too intrusive for us.

While we can see why Google would want it to be this way, this seems like an over reach to us that will probably be changed soon. Maybe not, though.




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