How to see which Android apps are spying on you
A surprising number of Android apps spy on their users, including those designed to measure data use, and Virtual Private Network tools that are actually meant to protect your privacy. They transmit this data to the app’s developers or, worse, sell it to other companies. And finding out which apps spy on you isn’t easy.
GlassWire for Android can help by showing you which apps are going online, when and how often, so you can build up a picture of their activity. It also monitors your Wi-Fi activity, mobile usage and data limits, potentially saving you money. Best of all, GlassWire’s findings never leave your device, so you don’t need to worry that it’s also spying on you.
- When you first start GlassWire, it asks for the permissions it needsto visualise your data usage. Tap the Go To Settings button and on the ‘Apps with usage access’ screen, select GlassWire. Enable the ‘Permit Usage access’ option using the toggle switch. Return to the app and tap Next.
- Allow other permission requests, and the app will start monitoring usage.It presents a real-time colour-coded graph, and displays download, upload, and mobile and Wi-Fi information at the bottom, as well as details of the traffic being used by apps and Android. There will always be some activity here.
- If an app suddenly starts using data (such as when Gmail checksfor new messages, for example) an icon will appear on the bottom bar. Tap the icon to switch to a graph view for that particular app. You shouldn’t worry about this type of usage unless the figures are consistently high.
- By default, GlassWire shows data usage for the past minute, but toget a better idea of which apps aregoing online too frequently, you needto extend this time frame. Tap the1 Minute drop-down menuand choose an alternative duration. This can be anything up to 90 days.
- Tap the menu button and select Usage. This shows you how much data your device has downloaded and uploaded during the specified time period. The bar at the bottom lists the apps responsible for this usage, and the total amount of data each one has consumed.
- Tap the menu button and select Alerts. This screen shows you when an app first connected to the network. In most cases, it will simply be checking for new data or updates. Look for any connections that are unexpected or out of the ordinary, though, and keep an eye on those apps in future.
- To configure the app, tap the menu button and open Settings. Tap Alerts to choose how you want to be notified when an app connects to the internet. You can opt for an audible warning or a vibration. You can also customise warnings for when you’re approaching the limit for your data allowance.
- The Settings screen shows the permissions you’ve given GlassWire and the information you want it to display in Notification View. This can include a bandwidth meter and data from a specific time frame. You can also choose a new theme and managehow often the app records data usage.