Android games are using your microphone to track your TV viewing habits

Android games are using your microphone to track your TV viewing habits

According to a report from the New York Times, some Android games have been doing this for quite a while. But if that happened, chances are Alphonso wouldn't have much of a user base anymore as who would opt to enable use of a microphone to listen to what you are watching?

Around 250 games on the Google Play Store are reportedly said to be using these tricks. Techcrunch reports that the number of apps using the tech has dropped in the past few days, perhaps reflecting the removal of ostensibly child-focused apps that included the feature.

If you miss that initial warning, you might not know what you're getting into once you open the app.

"With your permission provided at the time of downloading the app, the ACR software receives short duration audio samples from the microphone on your device", the disclosure reads. In 2016, it told a dozen Android app developers using similar software, called SilverPush, that users need to be notified of what type of information their apps are collecting and why it's being collected.

In total, there are thought to be over 1,000 apps including games, social media, and messaging apps that user Alphonso's software to listen and learn in the background. The commission has said that only including disclosures in, say, a YouTube video description isn't acceptable, since not every viewer may see it.


Numerous apps, such as Dream Run, Honey Quest and Bunny Jump are games targeting children.

Using a smartphone's microphone, Alphonso's software can detail what people watch by identifying audio signals in TV ads and shows, sometimes even matching that information with the places people visit and the movies they see.

It's not that the apps do not ask for users permission to use the microphone. Both Apple and Google require apps to request microphone access - so users do have to grant permission before an app can start listening - but it isn't always clear beforehand that the app will still work even without that authority.

While creepy, the behavior is technically above-board, which may make you feel better or worse.

Photo In iOS 11, you can move multiple apps together by selecting one in the home-screen edit mode and then tapping other icons.

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