Mar 28, 2016

What Permissions Are Reasonable for an App on Android Phone to Request?

One of the features that we all love in Android 6.0 is how we are now able to decide what app permissions are allowed and which ones aren’t. We are finally able to take control of what an app can and cannot do. Marshmallow users can see what apps have access to in general, or they can also see which apps have access to their device’s camera.





Unfortunately, if you’re not rooted or don’t have Android 6.0, there is no way to deny an app a particular permission. It’s a take it or leave it situation. The only way you can do it without Marshmallow is to root your device and use an app such as App Ops. Using this app is very easy because all you have to do after launching it is:
  • Swipe right to arrive at the Messaging Tab.
  • Scroll Down and tap the app that has the permission you want to revoke.
  • Inside that app select the ON/OFF button for the permission you don’t want it to have.
But what are app permissions? Is it that important to read what an app wants access to? Keep reading to find the answer to these interesting questions.
Android app permissions are declarations, not requests. It’s what the app needs access to to work properly.

Android_App_Permissions_List 

When you find an app that asks for too many permissions, you probably don’t read all of them and just hit Accept. That’s not a very wise thing to do because it could mean the difference between having your information safe or it falling into the wrong hands.
You’re probably won seeing, “What does updating an app have to do with app permissions?” These two things are very much related. If you have things set up so your apps automatically update, you will still come across an app in the “Needs Updating” section. This is because the app developer has added a new feature and there is a new permission it is requesting.

The majority of us may not even notice or bother to read the permission it’s requesting since it’s an app we have been using for a while now, but that is a bad habit we need to break. It could very well be asking for your banking information, but if you don’t bother to read it, you’re saying yes to that.
To view the permissions in your current apps go to “Menu -> Settings -> Applications” or Applications Manager -> Tap on any app.

Android_App_Permissions_App_Info 

Scroll all the way down, and you should see the permissions you have given to the app already installed on your device. Do you see a permission you don’t like?
 
Let’s say that you want to uninstall all the apps that need access to your identity. Looking for those apps one by one can be very time-consuming and tedious. A free app that I have on my phone that identifies permissions in the apps is aSpotCat – Permission Checker. In List Apps by Permission, you can see your apps divided into the permission they require (which is the very first option on the list).

Android_App_Permissions_Spot_Cat

When you have accessed the first choice, you can choose to see what apps have access to your audio settings, alarm, camera, etc. If you only want to get rid of the apps that have access to your camera, this app is going to make everything a whole lot easier.

Android_App_Permission_2Spot_Cat


If you are curious to see what an app has access to, just tap on the “List Apps” option at the beginning.
We can’t stop app developers from asking for unnecessary permissions, but we can talk about which apps have ridiculous app permissions. For example, there is Draw Something Free that uses the Read Phone Status and Identity permission. The app uses this permission so advertisers can identify you and create a profile of which apps you usually use. To do this, the app passes your call log, number, carrier, signal information and more.

Another example is Brightest Flashlight. The developer of this app was charged by the FTC for sharing a user’s location and device ID without their consent. Seriously, why does a flashlight app need access to my pictures/media/files? An app should only ask for the permissions it’s naturally going to need, like a photo editing app requiring access to your pictures but not to your precise location.



Android_App_Permissions_Flashlight

It’s very important to start reading each and every app permission that we see when we install an app if we want to keep our date safe. If there is an app you want that has too many permissions, do you still install it? Let us know in the comments.

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