The Galaxy S21 lets you remove GPS location data before sharing a photo
There's also a new Private Share app
If you missed Galaxy Unpacked yesterday, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy S21 series, a trio of smartphones with the latest Qualcomm or Samsung-made 5nm chipset and Android 11-based One UI 3.0 software. As always, Samsung’s latest and greatest smartphone series comes with new features that are (for now) exclusive to them. We’ve talked about a few of these features already, but here’s an overview of the new privacy-related features on the Galaxy S21 that Samsung detailed during its Unpacked event.
First up is a feature that doesn’t have a name, but it’s one that will be incredibly useful for the average person. In fact, it’s so useful that I hope Google copies it for the next version of Android. On the Galaxy S21, you’ll be able to easily remove location data from a photo before you share it. All you have to do is select a photo in the gallery app, hit the share button, and then select “remove location data” underneath the picture preview in the share sheet.
Doing so will strip the photo of any location data, including the latitude and longitude of where it was taken, before it’s shared. This data is typically stored in the metadata of the image file, and it’s easily removable by any app that can edit EXIF fields. There are countless apps on Google Play that can do this for you in a few taps, and many social media sites automatically remove EXIF location data while processing your photo. But as a user, it’s hard to know which sites remove it and which don’t, so it’s good to be in control to be sure any location data has been removed.
In case you want more control over the content you share, you can use Samsung’s new Private Share app. You can share any file, including pictures, videos, and documents, and choose when to revoke access to the file. You can manually revoke the recipient’s access to the file at any time, or you can wait 2 days for their access to automatically expire. Both the sender and the recipient are notified of any files that are sent or received. Private Share works between any Galaxy smartphone running Android 9 or later, though both the sender and the recipient will have to download the app to share files. It’ll likely come pre-installed on all Samsung Galaxy S21 units, though.
While this app won’t protect your files from being saved by someone really intent on saving what you sent—the app can’t stop someone from taking a picture or recording a video of their phone with another phone or retyping the content manually onto a PC—it will give you some peace of mind that nobody can just go weeks, months, or years back to find the files you shared a long time ago.
Samsung Knox Vault
Lastly, at the heart of the Galaxy S21 is Samsung’s “Enhanced Security System.” Samsung says the Galaxy S21 series is the first from the company to feature Samsung Knox Vault, which is comprised of a secure processor, secure memory, and integrated software to protect your phone credentials and biometric data from being exfiltrated. “At the heart of our ‘Enhanced security system’ is a secure processor which is engineered to ensure your data stays protected even against hardware attacks. For the S21 series, we worked closely with both Qualcomm Technologies and Samsung System LSI Business to develop a secure processor that meets our stringent security requirements. In addition, we brought a whole new layer of protection customized for this processor by adding a physical, tamper-resistant secure memory. We call it Samsung Knox Vault. With a secure processor, secure memory, and integrated software, this vault will safely store your PIN and password, biometrics and blockchain, and Samsung service authentication keys” the company said during its Galaxy Unpacked event.