You should never ignore the green dot on your Android’s screen

By Rob Waugh Tech correspondent for

11:59 20 August 2023, updated 12:05 20 August 2023

If you’ve ever noticed a green dot at the top of your Android phone’s screen, it can be a warning sign that someone is watching or listening to you.

The dot is an indicator that an app is using a sensor on your Android phone, either the microphone or the camera.

For example, if you are using a voice recorder app or making calls, it is possible to appear for completely innocent reasons.

But if you see the green dot and you don’t know why it’s there, it could be a sign of ‘spyware’ apps on your phone. has detailed how a similar warning sign sometimes appears on iPhones.

A green dot appears in the top right of the screen when an app is using the microphone or camera in the background
Jamie Akhtar, CEO and Co-Founder of CyberSmart (CyberSmart)

Thankfully, it’s easy to find out which app is using your mic (the privacy indicator dot was added to every Android phone in the Android 12 update, and it will be there whether you use a Samsung, Pixel, or other brands). have been).

Speaking to, Jamie Akhtar, CEO and co-founder of CyberSmart, said, “Most of the time, the green dot is nothing to worry about, but if you suspect you are being spied on, you should Need to act fast.

Akhtar said, ‘Usually seeing green color on your Android screen is nothing to worry about. In most cases, this simply means that an app is using your device’s microphone (or camera).

‘This can be caused by a third party app or your device’s basic function like voice assistant.

‘Typically, these will be apps you’ve given permission to use these functions, but if you still see an orange or green dot when you’re not using an app, it’s time to check .

‘The most likely cause is that you have allowed an app to access your camera or microphone even when it is not in use. Check it in the ‘Permissions’ section of your device’s settings.

‘If this is not the case, it could mean that your phone has been hacked and is using spyware to track what you are doing.’

If you suspect spyware is installed on your phone, Akhtar recommends running a malware scan (open the Play Store, then tap your profile, then Play Protect, then Scan).

Akhtar recommends changing your passwords (especially important passwords like email passwords) but not on the affected device, then factory resetting the device.

If you see the green dot, it’s easy enough to figure out which app triggered it.

Swipe down from the top of the screen if you see a green dot, and a microphone or camera will appear to show you which sensor is being used.

Tap on the icon, and you’ll see which app is using it.

From that screen, you can revoke an app’s permissions to use the microphone or camera (though if an app is using it unexpectedly, it might be better to uninstall it altogether).

You can also see a clear minute-by-minute record of which apps are using which sensors.

From this screen, tap on the app that’s using your microphone or camera, and you can see a full list of the sensors that app is using.

Tap on the dot and you can see which apps are using the sensor (Google)
You can see a timeline of which apps used the sensor and when (Google)
Swipe down from the top of the screen, then tap the mic or camera icon that appears (Google)
You can review your device’s privacy settings and revoke app permissions (Google)

From here, you can revoke permissions (though it’s worth noting that some apps require the permission to function, ie without access to the microphone, Voice Recorder won’t be of much use).

If you are concerned about which apps are accessing the sensors on your phone, Google also introduced a new Privacy Dashboard feature in the same Android update.

It provides an overview of which apps have accessed your device’s sensors, as well as private information such as call logs and contacts.

To access it, open the Settings app, tap on Security & privacy or Privacy.

You may need to tap on Privacy again, to find the Privacy Dashboard.

Tap Privacy Dashboard.

To change app permissions, just tap on the permissions like Location, Microphone, Calendar, Call Logs, Contacts from the list.

You can allow apps to use the sensor all the time, only when open, or never.

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