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apps snooping on you
© Stefan Amer |
Security & privacy

Check this list to see the apps on your phone listening through your mic

Most people go about daily business without considering who might be listening to their conversations. Whether in the office or out shopping, you might not consider the people in the immediate vicinity listening to you.

But what about your gadgets? Your computer microphone might still listen even on mute, and your phone’s microphone can record conversations. Have you ever thought about what would happen if snoops knew what you were saying?

This isn’t some sci-fi scenario. Read on to find out which apps on your phone listen to your conversations and how to stop them.

Here’s the backstory

It’s a classic Hollywood film scenario. Skilled hackers break into a mobile device to access data or listen to conversations. But snoops don’t need high-tech gadgets to listen to your conversations. Apps that are already installed on your phone are doing it right now.

It might sound more dramatic than it is, but apps invading your privacy are a real issue. There is a good chance that you have hundreds of apps installed on your device. Some apps actually need access to your phone’s microphone and camera. Think of video calling apps like Zoom.

But some apps request permission to access your mic and camera that absolutely do not need it. Why would a calculator app need access to your phone’s microphone? It wouldn’t. That’s why you need to take privacy into your own hands.

What you can do about it

If you’ve lost track of all the apps installed and which require access to your phone’s mic or camera, there is a quick way to see what’s happening.

Microsoft recently rolled out an update to Windows 11 that lets you see which programs have accessed your camera and microphone on your PC. Fortunately, there is a way to find out which apps have permission to access the mic and camera on your phone.

Here’s how to do it on iOS gadgets:

  • Open Settings.
  • Scroll down and tap on Privacy & Security.
  • Tap on Microphone.

The next screen displays a list of all the apps that want permission to access your microphone. To give an app access to your mic, slide the toggle next to it to the right to enable it. To block an app from accessing your mic, slide the toggle next to it to the left.

Use common sense here. As we mentioned, a calculator app has no logical reason to access your microphone. Think about each app and its function and decide whether they need to be granted permission to access the mic.

You can do the same for apps wanting permission to access your camera. Select Camera when completing the steps above and follow the same procedures we listed.

Want even more details? On the same Privacy & Security screen in Settings, scroll down and select App Privacy Report to dive deeper into which apps have access to different components and data.

Here’s how to check app permissions for Android phones:

  • Swipe down from the top of the screen to go to Settings.
  • Tap the gear icon and then Privacy.
  • Tap Permission Manager.

Similar to iOS, it displays a list of all the apps that have access to your camera and microphone. It’s always a good idea to eliminate unused apps, as updates can change permissions and access.

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