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Android 4.3 will let users pick and choose which features and data apps can access

News by Andrew Kameka on Friday July 26, 2013.

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At the Google I/O conference in May, Google revealed that it has considered implementing a system that would allow Android users to grant apps access to only certain information, but the Android engineers would not commit to such a program. Code buried in the recently released Android 4.3 reveals that it is definitely coming.

Android Police has discovered a new App Ops permission manager within Android 4.3 that will deliver the long-requested optional permissions model for Android apps. Under the current Android system, users must accept all permissions before they are allowed to install an app. With App Ops, users will be able to let grant permission to access some data but reject others and still use the app. For example, a user could accept Facebook's request to access the Internet and access the camera, but they could reject requests to read contacts or find a user's location. Permissions could be toggled on or off at a later date if someone changes his or her mind about how to interact with the app.

App Ops is not readily visible in Android 4.3 because the system is not finished. There are still some issues to iron out, such as how to best inform users about how their permission settings will affect performance. Users might forget that they denied Facebook access to location data and later be perplexed why the app's Nearby section is unable to provide restaurant recommendations. This was the very reason I suggested that Google might be hesitant to support optional permissions. It could create headaches for developers whose customers suddenly think their apps are faulty when the problem stems from being cut off from user data.

Google needs to devise a way to more articulately express to someone, perhaps through a pop-up screen or notification reminder, that apps need access to specific data in order to implement certain functions. Once that happens, Android smartphone and tablet owners will gain more control over their personal information.

source: Android Police

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Andrew Kameka
Andrew is based in Miami, Florida.

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