Google pulls ability to tailor Android app permissions

Google pulls ability to tailor Android app permissionsHere’s another example of why it’s not always a good idea to storm ahead and install software updates the moment they become available.

KitKat Android 4.4.2, released earlier this week, actually removes the ability for Android users to manage app permissions, something Google says was mistakenly introduced in Jelly Bean Android 4.3. Zuh?

That’s the word from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (“Defending your rights in the digital world”), which ironically fired up a blog post titled: “Awesome Privacy Tools in Android 4.3+” only to discover shortly thereafter that they’d been removed.

The subsequent article is appropriately titled: “Google Removes Vital Privacy Feature From Android, Claiming Its Release Was Accidental”.

The EFF explains: “Google told us that the feature had only ever been released by accident — that it was experimental, and that it could break some of the apps policed by it.”

See, the feature was never declared by Google, but third-party apps like App Opps Launcher could make use of the hidden security abilities, allowing users to control things like network-related permissions and access to the address book.

As it stands, it’s an all-or-nothing situation, with Android users either accepting all requested permissions (even if they seem over the top), or simply not installing the app.

The EFF reckons Android users should have access to the feature by default - with a suitably intuitive UI. There's no reason why a flashlight, for example, should require network access, and with App Opps the permission could be revoked.

Read more about: Android

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