Do our phones listen to our conversations? About app tracking and personalized ads

Have you ever had a conversation about something you're certain you haven't googled or texted and spotted an ad offering that product later on? Although advertisers are after all of your online activity, they can't legally listen to your real-life conversations. Coming across relevant ads just means that Google and social websites identify your behaviour and release personally targeted offers accordingly. And while some people enjoy receiving targeted and sometimes very personal marketing proposals, others may feel like their privacy is somewhat invaded. Thankfully, there are a few things we, end-users, can influence. The following tips describe specific steps you can take to limit ad tracking.

iPhone's App Tracking Transparency (ATT)

iPhone's recent update allows users to decide whether or not they wish for apps to track their activity. If you're an iPhone user with iOS 14.5 or newer, you'll have access to the  App Tracking Transparency (ATT) update.


To disallow apps to track you, head to Settings > Privacy > Tracking and turn the toggle off.

Settings iPhone app tracking Settings iPhone app tracking

 Settings iPhone app tracking


Alternatively, select "Ask app not to track" after downloading new apps.

Allow apps to track your activity

Android app permissions 

Android users can, too, forbid apps to access valuable data, their camera or microphone. Each app, however, asks for different permissions but doesn't let users ban app tracking altogether. 


Go to Settings > Apps / Application manager > Select app > Permission > Choose category you want to turn off

About app tracking and personalized adsAbout app tracking and personalized adsAbout app tracking and personalized ads

Ad tracking for Apple and Android

Android does, however, offer another setting that limits personalized ads. Despite the fact that this tool won't stop ads nor will it decrease their number, it will unlink targeted ad profiles. Both iOS and Android users can do so.

iOS: Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising > toggle off Personalized Ads

Android: Settings > Google > Ads > Turn on Opt out of ads personalization

Turn Google Web & App Activity off

Whether you're on your smartphone, tablet, laptop or PC, you can restrict Google to track your every move. For this, you'll have to sign in to your Google account and go to Data & personalization > Activity Controls > switch off Web & App Activity.




If you're a social media or browser user, you probably get flooded by thousands of ads each day. Although following these tips won't fully protect you from seeing ads, your privacy will be increased, and your activity's tracking will be limited.