Android Q to get a ton of new privacy features

Coming to Android Q: MAC address randomization, new location data permission popup, no more clipboard sniffing.
Written by Catalin Cimpanu, Contributor
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Google's upcoming Android version, currently referred to only as Android Q, will arrive later this summer with a trove of privacy enhancements.

Details about these new additions have been revealed earlier this week after Google published blog posts and new Android support pages for Android Q following the release of a first beta version earlier this week.

Below are all the privacy-focused features that are expected to land in the stable version of Android Q at the end of August.

Access to clipboard data

Android apps can no longer access the Android operating system's clipboard data unless they are in focus (running in the foreground aka on screen).

Apps can access clipboard data while in the OS background if they are also the default input method editor (IME) --aka the default keyboard apps.

MAC address randomization on by default

Google introduced MAC address randomization in Android 6.0, but devices broadcast a random MAC address only when the smartphone would initiate a background Wi-Fi or Bluetooth scan.

Android Q devices will now transmit a randomized MAC address by default, at all times, and for all communications.

Despite security researchers proving that they can still track devices with randomized MAC addresses, supporting this feature will reduce the efficiency of some data harvesting and user tracking operations.

Removing easy access to network data

Android Q will also remove the /proc/net function that gives out information about the device's network state.

App developers have other alternatives, but those are safeguarded by permissions, menaing the free lunch for some data harvesters is over.

Removing easy access to device details

Similarly, starting with Android Q, Google will also require app developers to request a special permission before they can access what the OS maker calls "non-resettable device identifiers" --device IMEI and serial number.

Non-ranked contact data

Google has also decided that Android Q will stop tracking contacts based on the frequency of interaction.

Any app that received the permission to access the user's contacts will only get non-ranked contacts going forward.

More control over location data

Probably one of the coolest features that will be included in Android Q is the new permissions prompt for accessing location data.

Starting with the next Android release, users will be able to give apps access to location data all the time or only when the app is in focus (in the foreground).

Google, Inc.

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