There are many kinds of apps out there, apps that can perform all sorts of tasks – from keeping track of your daily “To-Dos,” letting you show off your vocabulary to your friends, to pushing a button and hearing any one of many silly sounds. Some apps, especially those which rely on physical hardware to perform these actions, require certain permissions to function fully and properly. In the past, the list of permissions an app needed to function was displayed during installation on Android devices. This is no longer true, as recent Android updates have reformed how apps in the mobile OS interact with phones.
Out With The Old
Previous versions of Android required apps to display a list of necessary permissions during app installation. This meant that, upon trying to install an app, you’d see a screen much like the one to the left. This screen gives you a breakdown of exactly what information to which the app will have access. This is important because whomever developed the app also have access to this information. We should all be careful when it comes to this data. It’s our data. While it is completely understandable that a GPS app would need access to your physical location via your phone, there are apps out there that request your location that don’t really need it.
In With The New
As of Android 6.0, playfully dubbed ‘Marshmallow,’ apps will now ask for permissions during runtime instead of during installation. For consumers, this is good news in more than one way. First, it really shortens the amount of time it takes to install applications. Rather than having a bunch of screens to click through, clicking install really just installs the app.
Next, having the app ask for permission at runtime gives users a sense of when, and perhaps why, the software needs certain details. For instance, when loading a camera app, a screen may appear asking for permission to utilize the phone camera. This is expected, but the user can actually deny the app from accessing the camera at this screen. While in this example the app is rendered useless, this is not always the case. There’s a game called Alphabear, and during start-up, this screen is displayed:
While we realize that this feature is used to verify the identity of the phone should there be a purchase of an in-app purchase, we may choose ‘deny’ for our own piece of mind. Spry Fox, the game creators, make some of our favorite mobile games, and though they proobably wouldn’t misuse the data, but it’s OUR personal information, and until a purchase is made in the game, we would continue to deny the app from accessing these files. And the game plays just as it should otherwise – and is quite fun!