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Hundreds of Android apps found covertly using your phone’s microphone to track your TV habits

Some smartphone games have been found using a specific software that uses your device’s microphone to track users’ TV watching habits and collect data for advertisers. According to a recent New York Times report, more than 250 games on the Google Play Store use software from a company called Alphonso that uses the smartphone’s mic to listen for audio signals in TV ads and shows.

The data collected is then sold to advertisers for ad targeting and analysis.

NYT reports that the software is used in games, some of which are geared towards children. Although the software does not record human conversations, it can detect sounds even when a phone is stowed away in someone’s pocket and the apps are running in the background.

Alphonso’s chief executive Ashish Chordia told NYT that the company has also worked with film studios to analyse viewers’ movie-watching habits in theaters as well.

“A lot of the folks will go and turn off their phone, but a small portion of people don’t and put it in their pocket,” Chordia said. “In those cases, we are able to pick up in a small sample who is watching the show or the movie.”

While most apps seemed to be available in the Google Play Store, the Times noted that some were on Apple’s App Store as well.


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