Report: Google to Give Users More Control Over Android App Permissions


Staff member
Mar 24, 2011
Summary:Are you checking what permissions your Android app has? You should be, but even if you do, you can't pick and choose them yourself. That could be changing soon.

By Kevin Tofel for Mobile Platforms | May 8, 2015 -- 13:00 GMT (06:00 PDT)

Google is looking to give more power to the people; the people that use Android apps on phones and tablets that is. Instead of having no choice but to accept the permissions given to an application by the developer, you may be able to pick and choose what an app can do -- or can't do -- in the future.

Citing "people familiar with the matter," Bloomberg reported that the change is coming. If that's accurate, expect to hear details later this month when Google holds its annual developer event called I/O. The company is planning a 2.5 hour keynote address where it will share the latest news for its various platforms, including Android and Chrome.

Such a change would bring finer controls to apps so that users could determine what services, data and hardware and application could use.

Perhaps you don't want your favorite keyboard app to access the web, for example: You could theoretically disable Wi-Fi and mobile broadband access to the keyboard. Or maybe you don't want Facebook to access your phone's call log.

Indeed, some apps have been known to use web access even when you wouldn't think they need it all.

Earlier this month, a report surfaced showing that some free Android apps silently connect to more than 2,000 ad and user tracking sites.

By allowing device owners to manage app permissions with finer controls, this situation is less likely to happen. Of course, people will need to actively use the controls. As it stands now, I suspect very few people scrutinize the permissions of apps they install. Instead, a cursory glance -- at best -- is the more common situation.

Adding finer permissions control for Android apps is really just the start of a better experience, then. Google is going to have to educate people on how to better manage app permissions and explain the importance of such actions.


This isn't the first time Google has reportedly been looking to tweak the app permissions experience.

Engadget notes that back in 2013, Google included hidden settings to give users more control. Some third-party developers have since created apps to use those settings; hit the Google Play Store and you can see or even install some of these if you can't wait for Google's own solution.