[Android] Check what data and information apps are collecting with Who is TrackingJuly 2, 2013 2 Email article | Print article
Ever wonder what apps on your phone are tracking sensitive information or collecting it? In light of recent events I’m sure a lot of us are rethinking how we approach our own privacy more so than usual. For example, app permissions are definitely something one needs to pay attention to before allowing it access to a device. Even though apps do list what permissions they require, some don’t play by the rules. Every now and then a rogue app can take advantage. Who is Tracking is a free Android application that allows you to catch those rogue apps redhanded. It lets you know what apps are tracking your location data and accessing your personal information.
What is it and what does it do
- Allows you to track various connections and see what apps are using them
- Quick shortcuts to security and privacy settings like ‘allow mock locations’ to mask GPS data
- There are banner advertisements
- The realtime sound tracker/alert feature is only offered in the paid version, and there is no paid version available yet
There’s not a whole lot of depth to Who is Tracking. It does one thing in particular, and that’s scan your device for apps that are collecting your personal information or location data. That being said, there are several ways to do this as presented by the application.
As with any device, there are several different connection methods available ranging from Bluetooth and WiFi, all the way to 4G wireless. When you start the application, you’ll see a list of available options, which include the following:
- Bluetooth track finder
- WiFi track finder
- GPS tracker finder
- Network tracker finder
- Allow mock locations
- Delete history
- Trojan virus tracker
- Sound track finder
- Test anyone tracking you
The finders and trackers will scan for apps that use the related connections and then spit them out for you to see.
Allow mock locations, the trojan virus tracker and delete history are more like toggles. The allow mock locations option will take you to the stock Android settings so you can enable or disable this option. The Trojan virus tracker tells you a pretty detailed account about an Android virus, and then tells you how to detect if it’s installed on your device. The delete history option allows you to clear the GPS history stored on the device.
Allow mock location basically feeds suspicious apps improper location data if they try to access said information for longer than necessary.
Other than that, the respective finders will scan the device and display a list of offending apps. Bluetooth finder will tell you what apps use Bluetooth, while network track will tell you what apps use your mobile wireless connection. It’s pretty straightforward.
The ‘test anyone tracking you’ option will scan your device for malicious apps and generate a detailed report- it scans through all of the related connections. It spits out readable information like the currently connected WiFi network, your local location information and more. It generally takes anywhere from two to five minutes to complete the necessary scan. On my devices, it took about three minutes for the scans to complete all of which turned up with no flagged apps or software.
There is an advertisement banner displayed at the bottom of the screen, and even though it’s not quite obtrusive many would find issue with this. The developer has noted they are working on a paid version of the app and I can only assume the ads will be removed. The realtime sound tracker will alert you automatically when someone is trying to collect information or track data, but when you try to use it you get a message that it’s only available in the paid version. Problem is, the paid version isn’t available yet.
For reference, Who is Tracking uses about 29MB of RAM while running.
Conclusion and download link
Who is Tracking is a useful application that allows you to see what apps on your device is collecting personal information or data. And the app itself is pretty straightforward — there are no settings to configure or advanced options to tinker with. You just load up the app and scan away. There are a couple shortcuts to various settings on the phone, for example one takes you to the ‘allow mock locations’ option in the stock Android settings menu. It uses about 29MB of RAM while running which isn’t exactly lightweight, but the free version is not meant to be “always on” so RAM usage shouldn’t be an issue. If you’ve ever wondered what apps were doing on your device, this app offers you a simple way to find out. Check it out.
Version reviewed: 3.0.1
Requires: Android 2.2 and up
Download size: 1.3MB