Better late than never, Google has confirmed that improved control over location tracking is one of several new privacy features in the next version of its mobile OS, Android Q, due to appear later this year.

It’s an issue that’s been giving Google some grief in the last year as a series of investigations have revealed the way that Android apps – and even perhaps Google itself – furtively track users’ locations.

Currently, location access can be granted or denied on an app-by-app basis. However, there is nothing to stop an app that has been granted that permission continuing to track users’ locations even when it is not in use.

It’s become so controversial that Facebook even announced that it was unilaterally adding location-tracking control to its Android app to head off public concern about its data-gathering behaviour.

From Android Q onwards, apps will no longer be able to do this by default and will need to request background location access. Writes Google VP of Engineering, Dave Burke:

Android Q enables users to give apps permission to see their location never, only when the app is in use (running), or all the time (when in the background).

Will this put the location-tracking controversy to bed? Apart from the fact that many Android devices will not be upgraded to Q (only recent devices are guaranteed to get the latest version), Google’s playing catchup here: Apple’s iPhone has had the same feature since iOS 11 in 2017.

But this important change shouldn’t overshadow a range of other privacy and security features being added to the mix with Q.