Google Walks Back a Crazy Change

Posted by Matt Birchler
β€” 1 min read

Ron Amadeo: After public outcry, Google will reinstate Play Store app permissions list

The app permissions list is a factual, computer-generated record of what permissions an app can request, while the Data Safety section is written by the developer. You can't cheat the app permissions list, while Data Safety runs on the honor system.

I honestly have no idea what Google was thinking here. For those unfamiliar, Google was going to remove the the current screen that shows you what permissions each app used, a list determined programmatically by what the app actually did, and was going to replace it with a page where the app developer could write up their own list of permissions, seemingly without any review from Google.

I understand the intent of letting the developer explain why they ask for each permission, but doing this as a replacement to the automated system is bizarre to me. In my opinion, the best way to do this would be to have the automated list like today, but let the developer add a little text explaining why their app uses those permissions. Letting them create the list themselves seems insane to me. Obviously Android would prompt the user for access to most of these settings anyway, but this is very nice to be able to see before you even install an app from the Play Store (and App Store on iOS).

Now, I'm not someone who thinks that apps must be distributed through app stores otherwise society would fall into ruin, but stuff like this is exactly what's good about app stores, and removing it is crazy. Good on Google for walking back this change and I hope they land on something better for users next time.