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Android 12 Beta 1 is here, and with it are a handful of previously leaked privacy tweaks. On top of those already live in the current release, like the new approximate location permission and Bluetooth scanning tweaks, Google has also laid out the schedule for its new camera and microphone indicators and Privacy Dashboard. Some of these features have been in development for years. But today, at Google I/O, the company is finally showing them off.
To start, the new indicators and toggles for the microphone and camera that were previously spotted in development are official. Android 12 will show indicators at the top of the screen (in the corner in the images that we've seen) that show when either your microphone or camera is accessed. And this isn't just some tiny indecipherable dot like some mobile platforms use; the icons will very clearly indicate which with a visual icon that you don't need to look up the meaning of.
This feature isn't live in Beta 1, but it will be present in Beta 2.
The new Privacy Dashboard that leaked just recently is also official, showing the precise time and duration that permissions were accessed and which app used them. Think of it like a Digital Wellbeing for your privacy — it even uses a similar UI, with an overview for the last day in a timeline view that you can parse at a glance
This isn't live in Beta 1 yet, but Google says we can look forward to using it in Beta 2
If all this doesn't go far enough, you can actually blanket disable microphone and camera access in Android 12 via a pair of new quick settings toggles that prevent any app from accessing them — also coming in Beta 2.
Lastly, Android 12 will also support a new approximate location permission, so you can tell apps where you are in an abstract sense but keep things from getting too granular — perfect for something like weather or social media apps. This is present in Beta 1, but only partly: In the permissions manager you can limit an app to approximate location permission, but either the permissions request dialog hasn't been updated to match what you see above just yet, or apps currently using it need to tweak their location requests to trigger the full dialog. However, we can confirm the permission is there in other areas in Beta 1.
Android 12 also steps up the security of your clipboard. Given we tend to copy and paste things like passwords or addresses, they can contain sensitive information we forget about. Now, a toast message will appear if an app tries to access the clipboard if it wasn't the one you copied the info from. More on that here, and you can expect this to go live in Beta 2.
Google is also expanding its exemption for Bluetooth scanning outside contact-tracing apps, so you won't need to confusingly grant location access to things like smart home management or wearable apps. (This is live in Beta 1.)
The rumored app hibernation feature is also already in Beta 1, which force-stops apps and reclaims memory and storage/clears cache from them if you go without using them long enough. Launching the app is enough to bring them back out of hibernation.
For more I/O coverage, keep an eye on our homepage as we all slowly drown beneath the tide of Google announcements.
More details and feature schedules
Updated with more details regarding individual features and the timing for their rollout in Android 12.