Google will block certain apps from accessing other applications on your phone

Not a lot of people are aware but a single application on your smartphone can see the data on other apps installed on your device. This way, the app in question can access sensitive information like banking information, passwords and more. To clamp down on such applications, Google has announced that it will change certain policies for its Play Store from 5th May.

As per an Arstechnica report, in the update, the search giant has said that app developers will have to provide specific reasons for why Google should allow them access to other applications on the users’ phone.
The information is alarming as currently, Android 11 apps that request the “Query_All_Packages” permissions can view the full list of applications installed on your phone.

Citing concerns, Google has now updated its Developer Programme Policy which restricts certain applications from accessing all permissions.

“Apps that have a core purpose to launch, search, or interoperate with other apps on the device may obtain scope-appropriate visibility to other installed apps on the device,” Google said. There are certain exceptions that have been created for financial apps like banking applications which as per Google “may obtain broad visibility into installed apps solely for security-based purposes.”

If a developer’s application meets the policy requirements for acceptable use of the “Query_All_Packages” permissions, then he/she will be required to declare this and any other high-risk permissions its app needs in a declaration form in Play Console.

“Apps that fail to meet policy requirements or do not submit a Declaration Form may be removed from Google Play. Important: If you change how your app uses these restricted permissions, you must revise your declaration with updated and accurate information,” Google warned.

“Deceptive and non-declared uses of these permissions may result in a suspension of your app and/or termination of your developer account”.
Google has also said that developers who want their apps to interact with other applications need to use app-discovery APIs instead of just pulling the entire list of apps.

The ‘Query_All_Packages’ permission was added in Android 11, so it only applies to apps targeting Android 11’s API level, which is “API Level 30.”

The restrictions in the Google Play Store’s also apply to apps targeting API level 30 and above, and as per that not many apps will be counted to date for such restrictions.

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