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A phenomenal Android privacy feature that you probably forgot to use

A phenomenal Android privacy feature that you probably forgot to use

It’s amazing how many useful Android features are buried in the operating system and then forgotten over time.

When you stop and think about it, it’s also inevitable: with each passing year, Android becomes more robust and complex, as more advanced options are available. Make room in software. Therefore, it is logical that certain elements disappear from sight and from the mind and get lost in the confusion of somewhere along the way.

One of these articles caught my attention the other day, immediately causing «AHAH!» on this old rusty head of mine, as I remembered its existence and then argued that I had forgotten to use it all this time. It’s something called Android Guest Mode and first appeared in the Android 5.0 (Lollipop) era of 2014.

The guest mode, in case you forgot, does exactly what you expect – it gives you an on-demand way to change your phone to a blank, slate-like state where your apps, accounts and data are are all saved safely and instead you will get a similar experience with only the basic applications of the system preinstalled. It’s almost like a kind of incognito mode, applied to your entire phone – all your normal things are gone and nothing you do in that environment has any impact on your smartphone’s standard settings.

The implications of this are huge. The biggest realistic threat to smartphone security, after all, is not the impending invasion of malware monsters that sound scary (which, as I have argued until death in these parts, have more to do with security software sales and hype than with any pressure). practical danger). No, it’s your own negligence and occasional lawsuits.

Is this exactly the kind of mistake that Android guest mode can prevent and, best of all? Once you remember that it is there, it is very easy to implement.

First of all, we need to make sure that your phone is set up correctly to accept the feature, as it is often disabled by default these days. If you have a Samsung phone, unfortunately you are not lucky here, because Samsung, for no apparent reason, chose to remove this standard operating system element from their software (enter a tangential soap-related download here). However, on Google Pixel phones and many other Android devices, it takes 20 seconds to get ready:

  • Open the System section of the phone settings.
  • Touch «Advanced» followed by «More users».
  • On the screen that appears, make sure the top switch is in the on position.


(If you use a device where the manufacturer has arbitrarily moved things from the typical Android look and feel not See the exact range of options described above, try searching your phone’s settings for «Guest mode». you’re using a device running Android 5.0 or later, which, for the love of Goog, would be better than should take you to the right place and equivalent).

And that, my dear, is: Android guest mode is now active, ready and on demand.

What remains is primarily a matter of remembrance. Next time you’re about to send your phone to a colleague, customer, friend, family member, or even a ferret (hey, those little tips can paint a screen like it’s nobody’s business), do 10 seconds first to do this:

  • Swipe down from the top of the screen twice to open the Quick Settings panel completely.
  • Touch the user’s profile picture, which will probably be just a circular person icon, in the lower right corner of the panel, right next to the wheel settings icon.
Android Privacy Function - User Profile Icon
  • Touch the «Add guest» option on the screen that appears.
Android privacy feature:

And with that, your phone should inform you that it’s switching to guest mode, and a moment later you should find yourself on a generic-looking home screen with just the basic applications of the system. If you open something like Gmail, Drive, or Docs, you’ll simply be asked to sign in. It will be like using a new phone, without any of the usual things available or accessible in any way.

Android privacy feature - Home screen for guests

When you’re ready to exit guest mode and return to normal, simply repeat the first two steps above, opening the Quick Settings panel and tapping the user’s profile picture, and this time select «Remove guest» from the menu. appear. This will completely erase and reset everything that was done in that temporary profile, and once you’ve entered your PIN, model, or password (or used biometric authentication), you’ll return to your standard Android settings.

Quite a useful possibility, isn’t it? The power was there at hand all the time and now, when you have it activated in the back of your mind, you can use it whenever needed.