App Permissions are no longer displayed on Google Play
Google Play is the default store on most Android devices. Most Android users use the store to download new apps and games, and to update them.
Up until now, Google Play displayed permissions that an application needed to function. All applications have access to a base set of permissions that are not highlighted, but anything that goes beyond that needs to be specified in the application's manifest.
When you browse apps or games on Google Play now, you may notice that the permissions listing is no longer available. It appears that Google decided that the new data safety listing is sufficient in this regard.
Publishers are required to provide data safety information, as Google made it mandatory. It is up to the publisher to fill out the information though. Neither the Google Play application nor the Google Play store website list permissions anymore.
Google has not revealed why it decided to remove the option to view application and game permissions on its Android store. It is possible that Google thought that the new Data Safety listing is sufficient, or that permissions could scare users.
There are still options to display permissions.
How to display Google Play Store permissions
Android users have some options when it comes to displaying application permissions. One option would be to analyze an application's manifest file before installation, but this is time consuming and not really that practical.
A better option, highlighted by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, is to use the open source Aurora Store application. Aurora Store is available on F-Droid, a free and privacy focused Android marketplace.
Aurora Store is a frontend for Google Play, which means that it pulls data directly from Google's Store. Unlike Google Play, it provides users with important information, including permissions that applications request. The app lists trackers that are included in applications and games as well, which is another useful information.
A click on the permissions listing of an app in Aurora Store displays all the permissions that it requests. Note that Aurora Store does not display the Data Safety information yet in the interface.
With Aurora Store installed on the Android device, you could use it to look up the permissions of an app or game. Whether you install it from Google Play or through Aurora Store then is up to you.
The removal of permissions from Google Play is a step in the wrong direction. Google is still focused on limiting information and functionality to create a frictionless yet limited experience for its users. Users who need more information or options need to look elsewhere once again to obtain those.
Now You: what is your take on the removal of permissions on Google Play?
And just like that Google Play just went from being quite bad to supergarbage. From a privacy/malware standpoint this is a nightmare. They should have a dedicated section for apps that have zero permissions, no internet access, completely free, NO ADS NO IN-APP PURCHASES etc.. I know that section would not have many apps, but that’s the only section I would ever use.
I agree that this is a move in the wrong direction, as it removes vital information that users should have access to before hitting the install button.
Yup, I noticed this too. A friend sent me links to some free icon packs yesterday, and I was searching for the permissions tab, but all I could find is that “Data Safety” section. That section is completely blank for some apps e.g. Amazon and Zomato.
Well, I’m not going to install new apps from the Play Store anymore. I’ll stick to the Aurora Store and Droidify (F-droid client).
Now we wont know what these apps are doing to your phone behind the scenes. What a huge backward in terms of security & privacy.
Well it’s certainly inconvenient, but is it the end of the world as we know it? After installing an app you will still see what permissions it requests you to allow when you start it up for the first time, right? And if you don’t like it, then you can still refuse (some) permissions or right away uninstall that app again. In your overall apps settings, you can still frequently do your routine check of what apps claim what permissions, and curtail them as much as possible.
This being said, there is one very essential “permission” that is not even regulated by Android itself as a permission (instead it’s permitted by default for every app) and this is the “permission” to access internet. There are many apps that in fact may function perfectly (or reasonably) well offline, but that still do want to go online for the main reason of “phoning home”, or of “sharing” your personal data, or of loading ads.
The first and foremost security measure you can take (and it’s one that people sometimes simply forget) is to implement an “offline-by-default, online-only-when-permitted” apps policy on your phone.
This can be done easily by installing a software firewall. One that will alert you every time a newly-installed app asks for internet access, at which time you can decide if that particular app will actually need internet access for its core functions. In some cases, yes you will need to give that permission, but in some other cases you will be safer by not giving the app that connectivity permission (while still being able to use it).
In short, the greatest shortcoming of Androids built-in permissions system is (imho) that “online connectivity” does not even figure in the standard permissions handling list. Every user should add this option by using a firewall.
And once an app cannot even go online, the matter of what other “permissions” it requires, is in fact a moot question.
The real problem of removing App Permissions is that you cannnot tell as before what new permissions have been added between the version you have installed and the updated one.
It can be a rather a miniscule one that you cannot simply spot in the turn them on off list. So in order to know which you have to go to the phone settings, enter each app and list all permissions to find out. A nightmare.
Another step in the wrong direction from Google but that doesn’t surprise me at all considering they are only in it for themselves. The only time Google will make changes that will help users or is in the users best interest is when it starts affecting their bottom line.
I did notice this when I was on the search for a particular app to replace another and just gave up because I wasn’t gonna bother playing games with Google.
Whilst we are talking about how rubbish the Googly play app is now can we talk about how the pending downloads section for apps that need to be or can be updated is absolute trash and that due to phone screen widths you are never going to be able to see the date at of the update unless you put your phone in horizontal mode.
I can’t be the only one with that problem given the way its designed.
Pathetic google… really Pathetic!
It’s been like that since the last big update that was foisted upon us.
I have been meaning to try Aurora but now that you have mentioned it and reignited my frustrations I feel like its time to move on.
Speaking of worthless sacks of crap. The Amazon app just gets worse too and when you visit friends and family wish lists there is no date on when the items were added anymore.
It’s like these idiots do not even use their apps at all. Morons!
Another one that is potentially going to the gutter is Paypal. I haven’t tested it myself but a friend on mine told me they did an update which makes it more like cashapp and she does not like it.
Time will tell when I have to update that one so I can evaluate it too.
I have also heard that ebay app is hot garbage and most people use their browser but I have never used the app because of very poor ratings.
If google employees and product managers who make such decisions are reading this, so much the better,
Thank you Google for making something that should be transparent as opaque as possible, thank you for increasing chances of installing something that could have permissions we dont want to assign to a given app.
Sure Android OS will let you manage those permissions (at least 11 will but are we all using that, NO!) but only after the fact its installed and done its damage. We all know that genuine salt of the earth developers aren’t going to lie, but Google play has many apps on its store that come from genuinely criminal developers.
So Information should be widely available and for free without any extra steps, but I guess Google is moving to ala China GOV way of doing things. After all Informed users and ones capable of critical thinking are undesirables.
Their new Play store web page is horrible. There is no way of sorting reviews anymore unless you use the android app. Their Hangout replacement is garbage. Everything these large tech companies do keeps regressing. Is it lack of skills or developers being lazy?
There are Android apps that can tell you about permissions for various apps. However, you have to install, and run, the new app before the checker app can tell you what permissions the app requires. The best of these also restrict some, or most, of the permissions but often that depends upon what Android Version you’re running.
As an example, I used Total Control (TC) to restrict applications from accessing the wifi and cell phone data. However, TC relies on a host file, and must have new apps run before TC can find out all of the accessing of data the apps will use.
While there are a number of apps available via F-Droid (and other Repositories) that have more comprehensive checking of permissions and controlling of them. However, they all have the same problem, you don’t know about the permissions of any new, or updated, app until after you’ve installed (or purchased and installed) the app. So Google is forcing the Android User to check for problems after the fact. Another case of closing-the-stable-door-after-the-horses have escaped that Google is so good at doing.
The old Latin advice applies, Caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.
Definitely a step in the wrong direction. We need more info not less especially when malware sneaks its way onto the Play Store. You don’t want to be waiting until it’s been installed before discovering it’s something you’re rather not have: https://thehackernews.com/2022/07/several-new-play-store-apps-spotted.html
Google Play app permissions are going to be reinstated.
“Privacy and transparency are core values in the Android community. We heard your feedback that you find the app permissions section in Google Play useful, and we’ve decided to reinstate it. The app permissions section will be back shortly.”
“The Data safety section provides users with a simplified view of how an app collects, shares, & secures user data, but we also want to make app permissions information easily viewable for users to understand an app’s ability to access specific restricted data & actions too.”
“We will continue to take in feedback and work closely with the developer community to prioritize data privacy and transparency for users.”
I’ve been cautious with app permissions from the beginning, and just kept a healthy skepticism towards multinationals like Google, but this has pushed me well and truly into the Underground. May we find Integrity and Transparency as we selectively choose with whom to share our data, salary, and trust.
Thanks for Aurora store. Did not know about it.
Anyway, Google made another step to show how much he wants to hide malware apps full of adverts and how much they don’t care about users privacy.
I didn’t install a single app since this sh*t was made live. I hope they will bring it back again.
They said it will be back soon. But I wonder what “soon” means for Google …