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September 20, 2016

Android App Permissions

Filed under: Main — Tags: — admin @ 12:01 am

Android Marshmallow lets you know which phone or tablet features an app uses right when you install the app. And if that’s not enough, the first time you use the app, it may show a permissions card, specifically letting you know which features it needs to access. This change truly adds transparency to all apps and involves you with the permissions process.

When you start a freshly-installed app, you see the permission cards one after the other, similar to the one shown in Figure 1. These cards appear after you installed the app, which means you’ve already read the permissions and should know that they’re coming.

Figure 1. The storage permission card for the ASTRO file manager app.

Figure 1. The storage permission card for the ASTRO file manager app.

In Figure 1, ASTRO is asking for permission to access the device’s storage. That need make sense for a file management app, so I tap the ALLOW button. When ASTRO asked to access my contacts, I tapped DENY because I don’t see why it needs that permission.

With some apps, if you DENY permissions, the app may not run. And if the permission card doesn’t appear, then you can reset your choice, or deactivate a previous permission, from within the Settings app:

1. Open the Settings app.
2. Choose Apps or Application Manager.
3. Select the app to view the App Info screen.
4. Tap Permissions.

Figure 2 illustrates the Permissions screen for the ASTRO file manager app. As you can see, I’ve granted Storage permission but denied Contacts. You can use this screen to reset the permissions at any time.

Figure 2. The App Permissions screen for the ASTRO file manager.

Figure 2. The App Permissions screen for the ASTRO file manager.

Of course, when you reset permissions, the app bugs you again — providing that the permission is necessary to run the app. For ASTRO, it never bothers me to access the Contacts list. Though, I assume if I choose some specific item in the app, it may bug me again.

This permissions feature is great! It really lets you know what an app does, but don’t freak out. For example, most apps monitor the phone so that the apps suspends during an incoming call. But if your silly sounds app needs permission to use the microphone or camera and you don’t want it to, DENY the permission. That should make you feel better about using the app, or at least make you aware of an app that may not be all it seems.

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