Did you know that with the help of a particular sub-system in Android called App Preview Messages, users can send messages to you from a third-party app–even if you don’t have that app installed? In other words, it doesn’t matter what messaging app a contact uses; if they send you a message you’ll get it.

To some that might sound like a surefire way to never miss a message. To others, however, it might sound like an invitation for constant interruption, or worse, a way to open up your device to phishing attacks. Given the state of mobile security, you want to do everything in your power to prevent the possibility of unwanted messages from reaching your device.

So should you Disable App Preview messages? That depends on how cautious you are about mobile security and whether you want users to be able to contact you regardless of messaging app. Fortunately, you can disable App Preview Messages if you decide to. Let me show you how.

SEE: Android Pie is here, coming to Google Pixel phones first (CNET)

Disabling App Preview Messages

Open up Settings and go to Google. In the resulting screen, tap App Preview Messages. Tap the On/Off slider so that it’s in the Off position. When prompted, tap OK. That’s all there is to switching off App Preview Messages.

SEE: Cybersecurity in an IoT and mobile world (ZDNet special report) | Download the report as a PDF (TechRepublic)

Should you eventually decide to turn it back on, just reverse the process. The only difference is that you will be sent a verification code to your device phone number. Without that verification code, you can’t re-enable App Preview Messages.

Before you do switch this service off, I’m not here to say the feature is a vulnerability. Personally, I turn App Preview Messages off, even if only to prevent an onslaught of messages from third-party apps I don’t use. If there’s an added bonus of upping Android security by doing this, I call that a win-win.

Your take

What steps have you taken to secure your Android device and/or cut down on unwanted messages? Share your advice and experiences with fellow TechRepublic members.