How to control what Google saves from Android Q

If you use Android Q, you can take control of what information and activities are saved to your Google account.

How to control what activities and information you allow Google to save from Android Q

Did you know that, by default, your Android device saves a lot of information to your Google account. For those who consider privacy an integral key to security, this might put a wrinkle in your trust. You might not want your Android device saving such information as:

  • Web & App Activity
  • Location History
  • Device Information
  • Voice & Audio Activity
  • YouTube Search History
  • YouTube Watch History

If having any of the above information saved by Google gives you a case of the "Oh, no you don't," you're in luck, as the Android developers made it possible to configure what information you want your Android device to save to Google and what information you don't want saved.

SEE: VPN usage policy (Tech Pro Research)

The caveat

Of course there are caveats to this. The first is that this feature is currently only available for Android Q (which is still in beta). So, if you're using any release of the platform prior to Q, you need to wait until your device is upgraded to the latest version. The second caveat is that, if you disable certain bits of information, your overall Android/Google experience might not be as fulfilling and seamless. However, if privacy is your main concern, disabling some of this information might be important enough for you to live with a bit less seamlessness and interoperability.

If that sounds like something you want, read on.

Disabling information

In order to disable whatever information you choose not to share with Google, open the Google Drive app, tap the Menu button in the upper left corner, and tap Settings. From the Settings window tap Backup and reset | Advanced | Activity controls.

In the resulting window (Figure A), you should see a scrollable page of all the activity you can disable.

The list of all the activities you can prevent Google from saving is here.

Figure A: The list of all the activities you can prevent Google from saving is here.

Go through the list of activities (reading each carefully) and tap the On/Off slider to the Off position for any entry you don't want Google to save. After tapping the entry, you'll be informed that pausing information may limit or disable the more personalized experience across the Google ecosystem. If you're okay with that, tap PAUSE (Figure B).

Read the fine print, before tapping PAUSE.

Figure B: Read the fine print, before tapping PAUSE.

Once you've tap PAUSE you're good to go, and your Android device will now only share the information with Google that you choose to leave enabled.

A bit of backpedaling

If you find, after stopping the flow of certain activities and information, that your various Android/Google devices/services aren't working as you expect, you can always backpedal out of this and enable what you've disabled. Simply reverse the process to enable any paused activities and information.

Not the be-all, end-all

Don't think of this as your be-all, end-all security for Android. This is less about the security of your data and more about the protection of your privacy. That is, of course, indirectly related to your security--so this should be considered a win-win for those who take privacy seriously. Even so, if you couple this with Android security best-practices, you'll find your Android experience significantly improved.

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Image: Jack Wallen

By Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic, The New Stack, and Linux New Media. He's covered a variety of topics for over twenty years and is an avid promoter of open source. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen....