Google Backtracks on Android App Permissions After Outcry

The Google Play Store logo on a smartphone displayed through a magnifying glass

Since the introduction of app permissions in Android, the Google Play Store has listed all requested permissions for each app. Google started hiding the permissions section, but now the company is going back.

Google confirmed this week on Twitter that it had removed the app permissions section on the Google Play Store’s app listing pages, but the company “heard your feedback” and has begun to bring the section back.

In the early days of Android phones and tablets, the Play Store prominently displayed the full list of permissions an app would request — including access to networks, your contacts, calls, Bluetooth, etc.). The main reason for that was that all permissions had to be granted before the app could be installed.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow introduced runtime permissions in 2015, where apps had to ask for each permission after they were installed (and could deny it), instead of your phone or tablet granting them all automatically. That made the information in the Play Store listings less important — you were still warned if an app wanted Bluetooth access (or anything else), but only when the app asks for it rather than before installation. Google requires new apps or updates to existing apps to support runtime permissions, using the target API level requirement.

More recently, Google introduced a Data Safety section in Play Store listings, which are similar to App Privacy labels in the Apple App Store. The new Data Security section is easier to understand than Android’s broad permissions, but the information is provided by the app developer, rather than automatically generated from the app’s code, such as the permissions list.

Image of data security with location access information and personal information
Information about data security for Twitter in the Play Store

Google admits in its documentation that the company “cannot control how they handle user data on behalf of developers” – it’s up to apps to make sure their data security section is correct. It’s not a perfect system, but neither is the consent information.

Even though the permissions information in the Play Store isn’t that useful anymore, it doesn’t hurt to keep them close.

Via: The Verge

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