Manage your Android device with Google Settings app

Google_settingsapp_iconI’ve been frequently asked how you can manage Google Settings content (this includes data requests from Google apps) and privacy. Most people I speak with didn’t even know there was an icon (app) on the home screen that allowed you to access a Google Settings app (it actually isn’t an app) which allows you to proactively manage your data privacy.

It’s actually a powerful tool that every Android device should have on the home screen by default. One theory I have why this isn’t the case is that Google doesn’t want you to know what it’s collecting. If there is public concern, Google can turn around and say we provide an app that allows users to manage the data flowing out of your device.

If you wish to manage you Google Settings more closely (and I suggest you take some time to look at these features), I recommend you click on the Google Settings icon, which can be found on your home screen.

Tap > Google Settings icon and this will present you with the following list:

  • Connected apps – these are apps that are connected to your Google account
  • Google+ – allows you to auto-backup and amend your Google account settings (you can also add another G+ account)
  • Play Games – this manages game notifications, requests from Google+ circles etc
  • Location – collects location-based data from your device/apps. Also highlights recent location requests for say low battery use and whether > Google location settings is enabled
  • Search & Now – this enables/disables the Google Now function as well as the Search & Now Cards enabled. There is also a useful > Accounts & privacy feature. This allows you to manage who sees your Google Now updates, disable/enable > Web History; disable > Local App Search Stats and > Clear App Search Stats. You can also enable the > SafeSearch filter (this will prevent adult content from appearing in your search results)
  • Ads – this is where you unique ad ID reside – you can reset this and generate a new random ID (this makes it more difficult for ad networks to build device/user profiles). Additionally you can ? Opt out of interest-based ads (this is disabled by default) – this instructs apps not to use your ad ID to build profiles. Not sure right now whether this flag can be circumvented by developers / ad networks
  • Verify apps – this feature should be enabled by default. The latest update provides real-time scanning of apps on download/install and runtime
  • Android Device Manager – if you have ADM enabled on your device then this should be enabled. Make sure > Remotely locate this device & Allow remote lock and erase are both enabled
  • Drive apps – this shows the > Transfer files only over WiFi – uploading and updating of files will pause when WiFi connection isn’t available.
  • Lastly, the Settings icon (top right). Tap this and you can > Clear app data – this will delete all third-party app data stored with your Google account. NOTE: When you use this feature, the data will no longer be available on any of your Android devices.

I’ve tested the above on a Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 running both Jelly Bean and KitKat latest versions. If you notice anything different on other Android devices such as Samsung or HTC, please let me know and I will create a new post for this.

Safe surfing folks!

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