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Android App Permissions

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 [1], a list of permissions appears below the Accept & Download button.


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


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.


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 [2] as an example, the extensive list below is what you’ll see.


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 [3].