Google is bringing the permissions auto-reset feature for devices running on Android 6 and above
A year ago, when Android 11 was released, it brought with it a feature called Permissions auto-reset. The option revokes the permissions that you granted for apps, if the operating system detects that you haven't used said apps for a long time.
Here's why that's important. Do you install a lot of apps on your smartphone? Many people do, but sometimes we forget that we have them installed, especially if you are an app hoarder. You may still have the apps on your phone, because you never know when you might need them again. E.g. an app that you used for booking flight tickets, or make a reservation at a hotel.
That's fine, but what's not cool is that the apps may not be idle per se. They could be running in the background, which in turn means they might be accessing sensitive permissions. By revoking access to these permissions, you get some additional security/control over the app. Of course, you could remove the permissions manually, or simply uninstall the app, but not everyone is going to be doing that.
Now you can understand why permissions auto-reset is a very useful option to have. There's another reason why the feature is important. Android's biggest problem is OS fragmentation. Some OEMs provide a couple of Android OS upgrades, but many devices are abandoned quickly, with just a year of updates or in some cases, none at all. So, it is not a real surprise to see that many phones are still running on older versions of the operating system. This in turn means that the devices don't have the permissions-related security feature, since it was introduced in Android 11.
Permissions Auto-Reset in Android 6 and above
The good news is that Google is back porting the feature to older versions of Android. How is that possible? Through the Google Play Services framework. If your Android phone shipped with the Google Play Store out of the box, it has the framework installed. Google constantly updates the backend to patch fixes, to make sure the device can access the Google Play Store. The framework is also used by many apps to deliver messages and notifications.
Back to the topic at hand, the search giant says that it will release an update to the Google Play Services, which will bring the permissions auto-reset feature for devices that are running on older versions of Android, more specifically it will support phones that are on Android 6 to Android 10. The announcement article, that has been published on the Android Developer's blog, says that the change will affect billions of devices, and when the update is installed, the security feature will be enabled by default. That's a welcome move.
Apps that have been enabled as Device Administrator apps are exempted from this rule, but these are usually advanced apps used by power users. The announcement also notes that developers can prompt users to disable auto-reset, so if you ever see an app asking you to toggle the permissions reset option, don't be alarmed by the prompt.
The Google Play Services update will begin rolling out starting December 2021. In case you missed it, Android 12 is set to be released in a couple of weeks.Advertisement