Google is taking another big step in an effort to preserve user privacy by making some new changes to its Developer Program Policy that will focus on those developers who request users to show what other apps are installed on their Android devices.
As reported by XDA-Developers, Google regards the full list of installed apps on a user’s device to be “personal and sensitive information”. And to limit access to that, the company has made these new changes to its Developer Program Policy. Which will make it harder for apps to see what other apps are installed in users’ devices. More specifically, the developers whose app is targeting API level 30 (Android 11) and if these permissions are part of its core functionality, will only be allowed to use so-called QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission in their app.
“Permitted use involves apps that must discover any and all installed apps on the device, for awareness or interoperability purposes may have eligibility for the permission. Permitted use includes; device search, antivirus apps, file managers, and browsers,” said Google in changed policy description.
This new change in the Developer Program Policy will come into effect from May 5, 2021. And if an app doesn’t meet the new requirements, “its developer has to remove the permission from the app’s manifest to comply with the Play Policy.” Additionally, developers will have to sign a declaration form in the Play Console, if their app meets the requirements for using the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission. Google also warns that if devs won’t submit the Declaration Form, their app will is removed from the Google Play Store. The same will happen if developers asked for permission without meeting the requirements needed for using the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission.
As XDA-Developers notes that “all new apps and app updates on Google Play will be required to target API level 30 or above from November 2021”, will also be strengthening the enforcement of this new policy.
However, considering that some developers can use the list of installed apps in users’ devices, for advertising purposes or to sell that data to others for their own profit. This new change to Developer Program Policy looks pretty sensible decision by Google in an effort to preserve user privacy.