Google Imposes Strict New Rule as it Limits the Apps that Can See What’s Installed in an Android Device

Android Google play new rules   ( Pexels/ Lisa Fotios )

Google has introduce its latest rule, and it is set to prevent most apps from seeing all the other apps on an Android phone or tablet.

The tech giant has updated its Developer Program Policy to limit the types of apps that can request the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission, which returns the list of installed apps on a device that supports Android 11 or later.

Google’s rule on apps

According to the update policy reported by XDA Developers, Google regards the device inventory of installed apps queried from a user’s device as personal and sensitive information.

As such, Google will now only grant QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission requests if the app’s core user-facing functionality needs to be able to discover any and all of the installed apps.

Also Read: Google Fixes Android Apps Issue: Here’s What You Need to Do

This update would include antivirus programs, browsers, file managers, and applications for device search. 

The new policy could make it difficult for hackers to spy on your device for illegal purposes or for advertisers to serve you targeted ads.

It remains to be seen whether it will be just as effective as the policy change Google implemented in 2018, which was also meant to deal with apps that abuse permissions.

That policy update placed a restriction on what can access the SMS data and the call logs of an Android user. Google stated in 2020 that it was so effective that it saw a 98% drop in the number of Play Store applications that access those types of information.

Google’s policy change will take effect on May 5, 2021.

Apps asking for text and call data

According to Engadget, Google had clamped down on Android apps that abuse permissions, and it had a very tangible effect on the Play Store.

As part of a larger piece explaining how the tech giant continues to fight abusive apps, Google revealed that there was a 98% drop in the number of Play Store apps that access call log and SMS data.

The policy, which was introduced in October 2018 against unnecessary access, showed great effect in the tech giant’s 2019 data. The remaining 2% are apps that really do require call and text data in order to perform their tasks.

The internet pioneer also pointed to improved vetting mechanism that stopped around 790,000 policy breaking apps from reaching the Play Store.

Furthermore, a May 2019 policy asked developers to say whether or not the apps they were developing were targeted at minors.

Malware appeared to have been kept at bay too, with Google blocking more than 1.9 billion instances of non-Play Store malware.

In the past, Google is known to be strict when it comes to privacy.

However, Malware remained an issue on Android devices in 2019, including rogue code delivered through compromised Play Store apps. It may also be difficult to stop permissions abuse completely even with Android 10 having more control.

Even so, this suggests that developers are getting better at respecting your privacy and reducing the amount of data that they collect from users.


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