Android App permissions. Noticed something?

You may have become fairly numb to the fact that a massive chunks of Android apps have the right to read your texts and look at your photos. The whole system is, if we’re honest, too relaxed. We waive any right to privacy in exchange for an ad-filled game or app and it doesn’t look like anything is going to change soon.

But wait…

Have you noticed that a few more apps don’t seem to be requesting any permissions at all? Check this app out as an example. I’m just going to install it here and it looks like nothing is needed …
Android App permissions. Noticed something?

However, Google have decided to “simplify” permissions. What this means in part is that the permission to connect to the internet is now a given..

These days, apps typically access the Internet, so network communication permissions including the “full Internet access” permission have been moved out of the primary permissions screen.

Basically, it means that all apps, as default, can pretty much use your data connection to display ads, update scores, download updates and more. You will no longer see an app requesting internet access because it’s now dished out to all apps.

Google are trying to make a noise about how they’re constantly checking for “bad apps” and are maintaining quality but we’re still in a position – especially on Android – where a huge amount of privacy is traded for an application or game.

A recent investigation by zscaler showed that, amongst 75,000 apps, 68% requested SMS permissions and for the ability to send a text. Another 28% with SMS permissions also requested the ability to read your text. Sure, for the most part this is fairly safe – the app usually just wants the ability to share your high score or similar over a text message perhaps – but it also means that it can spam people. Plus, why are the 28% reading your texts?

It’s still not a perfect solution, and there’s a long way to go yet, but we’ll be keeping an eye on the situation.