Google says it will restore the app permissions section on the Play Store
Earlier this week, Google made a rather unusual decision to stop displaying app permissions on the Play Store. The move took users by surprise, and caused quite the confusion.
When a friend of mine sent me a link to an icon pack app, I spent a few minutes trying to find out the permissions that it required, before giving up on the quest. Google changes its app store's design frequently, so I thought this was probably some glitch, or perhaps the option had been moved to a different location on the page. It was only after reading Martin's article, that I came to know that it wasn't a bug.
TechCrunch reports that it received confirmation from the search giant that it had indeed removed the section on purpose. However, why it did so remains a mystery.
Here's where things get more interesting. Just 4 days after removing it, Google has confirmed via a message posted on Twitter, that it will restore the app permissions section on the Play Store. The Mountain View company says that the decision to reinstate it comes after receiving feedback from users. That's good news, but it has not mentioned when the change would be made.
I think that Google wanted to replace the Android app permissions section with the Data Safety part that is available on listings on the Play Store. Though they may appear to serve a similar purpose, the information that the two sections are quite different.
App Permissions tell you how data is collected by an app, for example by accessing your call logs, location, camera, etc. The Data Safety section on the other hand sort of explains the types of data that an app collects from your device, it also gives you an idea about how the developer will use the data, i.e., whether it shares the information with third-parties. So, you could say that app permissions is the more important feature of the two, as it gives you more control over the data collection. You could just deny specific permissions to an app to play it safe, and use the Privacy Dashboard in Android 12 to manage your settings.
That's why it is, in my opinion, App Permissions are the most important information on the Play Store. It could prove to be the deciding factor, whether a user installs an app or not. This could hurt developers more than it does Google.
The company's announcement about Data Safety mentions that developers are required to complete this section for their apps by July 20th. The deadline ended a couple of days ago, which means the rule is now in effect. But if you search for apps on the Play store and read their Data Safety section, you may be surprised to find that not many developers are following the rule. A notable example is the Amazon app, its Data Safety section just says, "No information available." It is unclear whether Google has given developers a grace period, but hopefully we may see more details popping up soon.
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