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Google to Limit Which Apps Can See Other Installed Apps on Android Devices, Evoking Similar Privacy Changes Apple Made in iOS 9

Added 04-03-21 07:12:02am EST - “Google will soon make it harder for third-party apps to see what other apps are installed on a user's Android device, a policy change that evokes...” - Macrumors.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Macrumors.com: “Google to Limit Which Apps Can See Other Installed Apps on Android Devices, Evoking Similar Privacy Changes Apple Made in iOS 9”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Google will soon make it harder for third-party apps to see what other apps are installed on a user's Android device, a policy change that evokes similar privacy protections Apple introduced in iOS 9, way back in 2015.

According to XDA-Developers, upcoming amendments to Google's Developer Program Policy will limit which apps can access an Android user's full list of installed apps. As noted by Ars Technica, such lists can provide developers with various private habits like dating preferences, banking information, and political affiliations.

Specifically, any Android 11 app that requests the "QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES" permission can see the full list of apps stored on a user's device. Google says it now regards this data as "personal and sensitive user data." Therefore, starting May 5, Google's app review process will restrict access to the permission to apps that the company believes really need it.

Once the change goes live, apps can only make use of the permission if "core user facing functionality or purpose, requires broad visibility into installed apps on the user's device." Google's list of permitted apps mentions file managers, antivirus apps, and banking apps, including other apps that involve financial transactions.

If an app doesn't meet these requirements, the developer must remove the permission from the app's manifest to comply with the policy, or risk their app being removed from the Google Play Store. If a developer believes their app justifies access, they will have to complete a declaration form explaining why.

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