Ask A Broadsheet Reader


Access to my body sensors!?


‘J’ writes:

I’d like to get your readers’ views on this as maybe I’m being over the top…

So I replaced my lost iPhone4 last week thinking that Samsung would have better morals than Apple. But then I discovered an incredible level of intrusion with Google /Android.

Firstly, it took an age to turn off the microphone, with there being an intentional level of difficulty in finding out how to do it (I had to download the Google Now app to this).

Then I refused permissions for access to pics, emails etc. except for the basics (pictures for messages, microphone for calls etc.) which was also intentionally difficult to do.

Now I can’t even send an email without them wanting access to ‘Body Sensors’ (see pic). Regardless of the data privacy issues it’s the sheer obnoxiousness of the whole set-up that really gets me and I really wish I hadn’t bought it. Whatcha think?


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32 thoughts on “Ask A Broadsheet Reader

  1. spider

    If you want to write emails in landscape mode, you have to allow the body sensors/gyroscope to sense the movement of the phone… you can chose to block access if you like.

    I know apple claim to be angels when it comes to your personal data, but at least Google are up front about what they are doing…

  2. edalicious

    It’s going to be awfully difficult to email your contacts if you don’t allow the app access to said contacts, isn’t it? Unless you want to open contacts, memorise the email address, open email, manually type in email address.

    Most of the things above are for situations like that, like where Calendar is automatically updated when you get an email with a flight booking, for example. It’s generally all pretty low key legit stuff.

    1. Bruncvik

      I’ve been using an Android smart phone for the past six years, and this is the first time I’ve heard about e-mail addressed for your contacts. I actually have most of the e-mail addresses memorized, and when I need any new one I just search the existing messages and hit “reply” to the person I want to send an e-mail to (and wipe the existing text and change the subject). For me, this is the easiest and most natural workflow. I’m not arguing against Google here – after all, I allowed Gmail all the requested permissions – but from a usability perspective it would make more sense to me if they gave the user an option to use Contacts for e-mails; not use them by default and have the user jump through hoops to remove this fairly useless feature.

      1. edalicious

        In fairness, that’s how I would do it nowadays since I’m generally emailing a relatively small number of people regularly but I used to do a job where I would have to email a load of contacts from a load of different companies on a weekly basis and it would have been impossible to do without Contacts reminding what people’s addresses were.

  3. Conaldo

    GPS connects your phone to GOogle services and apps like Gmail and Google Play, Photos etc
    It needs inputs to provide services for you like, photos, location, data from your fitbit

    it’s all optional, you dont have to give. Use another email app and bring your gmail account thorugh that (K9 mail being decent) dont use Gmail. Simples. But Google dont really care about you, what more important is all our behaviour. Also ask the grandkids to up your meds

  4. Ron

    Very simple solution. Return the phone and get a refund and buy a Nokia 3310. What are you expecting the broadsheet readership to be able to do for you? Why is there opinion important to you?

    1. Rob_G

      Yikes – this is a far greater privacy concern than anything that google is asking you to agree with,

  5. Brother Barnabas

    How there you be so flippant and off-hand??? Their coming they’re for help.

      1. Brother Barnabas

        please note: comment I was responding to was removed (and, along with it, the context)

  6. Mel

    I had a dumb phone, got a handmedown old iPhone and liked it but it got very slow so I got a Sony Android phone. Was equally dismayed at the level of adverts, monitoring by random 3rd party app developers, and all that google monitoring. The sony phone would cache huge amounts of data in some of the google apps to the point where I had to clear it daily. I eventually bit the bullet, spend 400+ quid on a new (entry level) iPhone and haven’t looked back since. I am genuinely confused when people say android is great, I had a really bad experience with the android system. Apple is by no means perfect but it’s worlds better having tried both.

    1. Birneybau2

      I think the pertinent sentence in your comment is: “I am genuinely confused when people say android is great, I had a really bad experience with the android system.”

      Just because YOU had an awful time with it is not indicative of it being a bad system. I have never had an issue with it and find it a much less controlled infastructure.

  7. Bruce Wee

    If you have any form of social media accounts than this information is already in the Empires hands so relax….sure text them instead of email?

  8. rotide

    Android asks you for all the permissions that the app might need upfront. It’ doesn’t always use them but it has them so it doesn’t have to annoy you for permission when you actually want to use them.

    It’s amusing that when people freaked out about privacy and smart phones, Android responded by being completely upfront about permissions. Of course this only made people freak out even more, resulting in people like the guy above me who prefers his apple device because of the lack of notifications about permissions.

    If you have an issue with all this type of stuff there’s a very easy out. Get a Nokia. They’re still making them.

    1. Marklar

      This is on the money. Also I’m not sure what version of Android that is but on Android 6.0 permissions are far more granular.

      1. Rhianna Dwyer

        Wrong. iOS only displays permission prompts when you try accessing a particular function (i.e an app launches the camera).

        Android is still widely behind iOS in development. If you own a ancient iPhone, you’ll receive updates for years. Majority of Android devices get ~12 months of updates before they start to rot digitally.

  9. petey

    “thinking that Samsung would have better morals than Apple”

    well there’s your problem, thinking any profit-making corporation can be judged on moral levels.

    when i use gmail on my android i have to tell it twice that no, i will not allow it to view everything about me.

  10. Custo

    Surely by just having Gmail then Google already know everything about you. Just roll with it.

  11. Cathal Farrell

    Yes, iOS asks for the permission when you first need it to e.g. Use the camera to take a photo, need to access the microphone to record video, needs your device location for a map app, needs to save a photo to your gallery etc. You are just not asked for everything all at once.

Comments are closed.

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