Android comes with many new privacy features, including a green dot indicator that users will see from time to time when using their phone. Rolled out in 2021, Android 12 resulted in a number of privacy-focused upgrades and improvements, including the ability to completely turn off the phone’s microphone, camera, or GPS sensor with a single tap. The toggles can be found in the Quick Settings panel that’s accessed by swiping down twice from the top of the screen.


With Android 12, Google also added an indicator that lets users know when the phone’s camera or microphone is being used by an app. The indicator appears in the form of a tiny green dot in the top-right corner of the display and is activated when an app accesses the camera or the mic, either in the foreground or in the background. When the indicator first appears, it shows either a camera icon or a microphone icon based on which hardware is being accessed. However, that icon appears temporarily before changing to a tiny green dot that remains visible for as long as the camera or microphone is in use.

Related: Does Your Android Phone Have A Hidden Button? Here’s How It Works

Why The Green Dot Is Important

Android Privacy Settings Camera Mic Disabled

To see which app is accessing the camera or mic, swipe down from the top to display the whole icon. Tapping on that icon will reveal more details, including which app is using the camera or microphone. Users can also tap on the app’s name in the pop-up panel to go to that app’s permission page and restrict it from accessing the camera or mic on that device. It is an important privacy feature that works exactly as advertised, alerting users whenever apps access the camera or microphone on their phone or tablet.

The green dot on Android works similarly to the orange dot on iPhones which was also added as a way to tell if the microphone on an iPhone or iPad is being accessed by an app. Many apps, including virtual assistants, such as Siri, Google Assistant, and Alexa, will need to access a phone’s microphone to work, so the orange dot provides a way for users to tell when that is happening. iPhones also display a green dot when an app accesses the front camera. This is similar to how most laptops flash a red or green LED light to indicate when the webcam is in use.

Manage Permissions On Your Android Phone

Android Permission Manager

Apart from providing privacy indicators, Google makes it easy to control app permissions via Settings. To do this, open the Settings app on an Android phone, tap on ‘Privacy,’ and then click on ‘Permission Manager.’ A list of permissions will be displayed in alphabetical order. Tap on any of the permissions such as Camera, Contacts, Location, Microphone, Call Logs, etc., to see which apps have access to them. The usage will be divided into ‘Allowed All The Time,‘ ‘Allowed Only While In Use,‘ ‘Ask Every Time,‘ and ‘Not Allowed.‘ Tapping on any app displayed under the various permissions will let users modify its access.

Unless an app explicitly requires access to any of these settings, it’s always better to restrict their usage. For apps that may require the use of the camera or microphone, like WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., enabling ‘Allowed Only While In Use’ will prevent them from accessing these features in the background. Similarly, a shopping app like Amazon may not need access to files stored on the device, so this permission can be disabled entirely. By making use of these privacy features on Android, users will have more control and awareness of what’s happening on their devices.

What Is The Blue Dot In Android Text Messages?

Screenshot of Android Messages with a blue dot next to contact's name

Android users may also occasionally see a blue dot next to contacts in the Messages app on their phone. Usually, dots next to text messages mean that they’re unread, but in this case, the dot serves as a different sort of indicator. On Android, a blue dot next to a contact’s name in the Messages app means that they have RCS messaging enabled.

For those unaware, RCS messaging enables several features beyond standard SMS, including the ability to chat with contacts, send messages over Wi-Fi or data, use emoji reactions, share high-resolution photos, and enable group chats. However, RCS messaging needs to be enabled in the Messages app for this to work. If enabled, users will see a blue dot next to a contact’s name in the Messages app, letting them know that they can chat with the person. While the blue dot on Android isn’t a security feature, it’s still a useful indicator in the Messages app.

More: Android Text Messages: What Do The Single & Double Check Marks Mean?

Source: Android Developers, Google Support

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