New software update: Google location tracking app

With the recent safety issues around the world, Google has new software for Android to track location only when in use.

It is becoming a habit to turn on location tracking features while using apps in order to have a better mobile experience. However, these experiences can be a double-edged sword.

Often times, mobile apps have bugs and leak location data that can cause concerns about privacy or physical safety. In Android, users only have two options: to turn on location-tracking features all the time or to turn off completely. Soon, Android users will have an option to only track location while using apps.


Why it is important for Google to build control into Android?

The issue (CVE-2018-9581) of sensitive data exposure via received signal strength indicator (RSSI) broadcasts in Android operating system allowed information leakage stemming from inter-process communication. While applications on Android are usually segregated by the operating system (OS) from each other and from the OS itself, there are still mechanisms for sharing information between them when needed. One of those mechanisms is the use of what Android calls “intents.”

An application or the OS itself can send an “intent” message out, which is broadcast system-wide and can be listened to by other applications. Without proper access restrictions and permissions put in place around these intents, it’s possible for malicious applications to intercept information that they shouldn’t have access to.