Technology

Android: Prevent apps from tracking you

When you browse the site on your Android smartphone, your activity is tracked everywhere. Target? Create an accurate profile for advertising by analyzing and informing companies about your browsing habits, the websites you visit, the time spent on those sites, your purchases and your clicks on advertisements.

This explains why sometimes when a user stops at a Facebook ad, they then get an ad for the same product via email…or even SMS.

Apart from the inconvenience caused, this practice can be dangerous for your data and privacy. And unfortunately, despite recent advances, both Android and iOS aren’t very good at tracking your activity globally.

And yet there is hope. And it’s called DuckDuckGo.

Protect your privacy and browsing

If you’re not familiar with DuckDuckGo, it started out as an alternative search engine with the promise of much more privacy than Google. The company then launched its own web browser for Android and iOS with a focus on privacy and privacy protection.

By default, this browser does not collect any data or pass it on to third parties. In addition, DuckDuckGo is a very good web browser with many options to customize it.

If you’re not sure yet, this new feature might force you to change your default browser: Activity Tracking Protection.

Beta and Waitlist

This new feature is currently still in beta testing. To be able to activate it, you need an invitation.

If you’d like to try it out, join the in-app waiting list by going to Settings > App Tracking Protection.

Screenshot of the Application Tracking Protection Waiting List request page

Request to join DuckDuckGo’s app tracking waitlist. Screenshot: Jack Wallen.

Once your request has been accepted, you will receive an invitation code that you can enter to activate the feature.

DuckDuckGo is watching you

Once enabled, you’ll find that DuckDuckGo reports all blocked tracking attempts on the notification screen. You’ll also have access to a well-designed dashboard that shows all blocked trackers from the last seven days:

DuckDuckGo App Tracking Protection Dashboard Screenshot

No app can track you if you watch DuckDuckGo. Screenshot: Jack Wallen.

Allow apps to track you

After a few days or weeks, you may find that some applications have stopped working properly. The reason may be that the app needs to track your activity in order to work properly. In this case, you have two options: uninstall the app (recommended if you really don’t need it) or allow the app to track you.

To allow this application to follow you, you will need to find it in recent activity and click on it. On the displayed page, press the ON/OFF slider until it is in the OFF position. DuckDuckGo will no longer block trackers from this app.

Disabling App Tracking Protection for Slack in DuckDuckGo Screenshot

If you absolutely don’t need the app, I suggest uninstalling it to stay safe. Screenshot: Jack Wallen.

Battery problems

After testing, I recommend this application. However, there is no perfect solution, and the new DuckDuckGo browser feature has one significant drawback. Which does not call into question my recommendation, but deserves to be emphasized.

I have noticed that DuckDuckGo is seriously draining my Pixel 6 Pro battery. I’m using the latest Android update and the browser has used up 26% battery in 14 hours.

DuckDuckGo battery life report in Android 12 screenshot

Battery life is severely reduced due to DuckDuckGo app tracking protection. Screenshot: Jack Wallen.

Pay attention to your version of Android

When I disable app tracking protection, battery life returns to normal. However, this phenomenon has been isolated until the latest update. Prior to this latest version, the app had almost no effect on battery life. I hope DuckDuckGo developers will fix this problem in the next version.

In the meantime, you can at least request to join a private waitlist and upon acceptance make sure you install a newer version than 5.130.0 (which causes my battery issues).

If you are serious about your privacy and want to block app tracking on your Android device as much as possible, DuckDuckGo App Tracking Protection is the best way I have found to succeed. Give it a try and you’ll see that your apps will be less able to track your browsing behavior.

Source: .com

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