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Android App Permissions

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012 by | Filed Under: Android, Smartphones
 
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Meghan says:

I’m concerned about the permissions requests I get when I install apps on my Android phone. Some of them make me wonder if the apps are safe.

Meghan, you’re right to be concerned. Since most Android app installations require some special access permissions, you have to decide whether those requirements are justified, and whether the app is worth allowing them. Many of them are necessary, while the need for others is debatable. As a result, I’ll often avoid otherwise interesting and well-received apps, because of the apparently pointless and invasive nature of the required permissions.

An example of an interesting–but nosy–app is Shazam, which enables mobile phone users to identify music that’s playing on their device. Sounds like a pretty cool app. However, their permission requirements include–among others– Your Location and Phone Calls.

When using the phone to download apps from the Android Market, a list of permissions appears below the Accept & Download button.

kevin_android_app_permissions_0

Click an item on the list for details and potential consequences.

kevin_android_app_permissions_01

An example of permissions for an already installed Facebook for Android app is displayed below. To find this App info, in Android 4.0, follow the path, Apps>Settings>Apps>Facebook. Then scroll down to Permissions. Naturally, Facebook needs some personal information, but some of their permission requirements seem overly intrusive.

kevin_android_app_permissions_1

If apps are installed via the computer (the method I prefer), click the Permissions tab to see what access is required. Again, using Facebook for Android as an example, the extensive list below is what you’ll see.

kevin_android_app_permissions_2

Of course, most apps won’t be so meddlesome, with many requiring no permissions at all, but it’s a good idea to check it out before installing one. For example, if you download wallpaper that requires access to your contacts, you have to wonder what’s going on.

For more on Android privacy and security concerns, click here.

~Kevin

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One Response to “Android App Permissions”

  1. gene jacobson says:

    There are a zillion apps I will NEVER have on my phone because of those permissions. Some I have thought would be useful but they want access to private information that has nothing to do with their app. I’ll never allow that. My smartphone will be more a dumb phone until they get over themselves and restrict themselves to information they need to function. Else I will continue to click NO, every time I read those demands.

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