Almost all apps that you have installed on your Android phone do one thing secretly: make a list of all apps you have on your phone. This list of apps is collected and linked to your user ID along with your phone number, location, addresses, etc. So, why do Android app developers do this? Knowing what other apps you have on your phone helps developers track your personal choices and serve relevant ads. Reports also claim that an Android user’s “political affiliations” can also be guessed by the kind of apps he or she has on their phone.
Now, some apps genuinely need access to all other apps you have on your Android phone. For example, apps like File Manager, Anti-virus, etc need to get this access to function properly. However, a camera app or a torchlight app doesn’t need such privileges. Very few Android users globally are aware of this privacy breach by random apps. This practice has been prevalent for a long time now and Google is finally stepping in to finally stop it.
Starting May 5, 2021, developers will have to state a solid reason as to why Google should allow access to a list of all apps on a user’s Android phone. “The inventory of installed apps queried from a device are regarded as personal and sensitive user data subject to the Personal and Sensitive Information policy,” said Google.
As per Google, only those apps can get access to the app list if their “core user facing functionality or purpose, requires broad visibility into installed apps on the user’s device.”
“For apps targeting API level 30 or later, broad visibility to installed apps via the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission is restricted to specific use cases where awareness of and/or interoperability with any and all apps on the device are required for the app to function,” said Google in a blog post.
“You may not use QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES if your app can operate with a more targeted scoped package visibility declaration,” it added.
With this change, you may expect better privacy on your Android phone making it difficult for rogue developers to track you.