The tech giant, Google will soon be more particular about which apps on the Play Store can see all of the other apps a user has installed. According to reports, a user’s list of installed apps, harmless as it seems, can communicate to developers personal attributes like dating inclinations and political affiliations. Therefore, starting on May 5th, 2021, developers will be required to present a valid reason for why should Google grant access to the information to the developer.
Furthermore, Android 11 apps that presently request the ‘QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES’ permission that can allow them to access the full list of apps a user has installed on a device. However, Google recently updated its Developer Program Policy and now considers this information to be ‘private and sensitive user data,’ and limiting which apps are permitted to use it.
Applications that do not have a defensible use case for approval, risk being removed from the Google Play Store. Moreover, all developers who require to keep the permission in their apps need to fill a declaration form explaining their use of it.
In addition to it, once the development goes into effect in May, apps can only use the approval of their “core user-facing functionality or purpose, requires broad visibility into installed apps on the user’s device.” Examples of applications that will be authorized to remain using this permission include file managers, browsers, and antivirus apps that require the information “for awareness or interoperability purposes.” Banking apps, digital wallet apps, and any other similar app that includes “financial transaction functionality” will get a pass “for security-based purposes.”
In case any misuse is made by the company, the documentation of Google clearly states that it will take strict actions against the offending apps, whether the said apps are new to the Play Store or just updates to existing apps. Google could suspend apps and probably terminate developer accounts.
Source: The Verge