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New Google Android update limits app visibility on phones



Illustration for the article titled Google strikes at apps that can see all the other apps you have installed

Photo: Sam Rutherford

As Google continues to upgrade its privacy and security policies,s now making an important change in Android that will limit the ability to Android apps to see everyone other apps you have installed on your device.

In a recent announcement for developers, Google outlined an update to the policy that will limit “wide app visibility ”in Android 11 or later. Wide app visibility is a feature that allows apps to search your device and potentially see what other apps you have installed. Google says it considers data about other apps installed on a device to be sensitive information, and makes this change to increase users’ privacy.

More specifically, Google says that any app that “can work with one more targeted scoped package visibility statement“Not allowed to use the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES call, which returns a list of all the apps on your Android device, while wide app visibility is “limited to specific use cases where awareness of and / or interoperability with all apps on the device is required for the app to work.”

The apps that are allowed to have wide app visibility include apps like file administrators, browsers, antivirus apps and others that simply cannot work without deeper access to other apps on your device, which means that it will be especially important to be sure that these The types of apps come from safe and reliable places.

In the future, Google says developers need to justify the use of broad app visibility calls or remove the app’s permission to view the app’s manifest for a device. As of April 1, Google gives developers a 30-day deadline to edit or update their apps in response to the new policy. However, developers who do not comply with them may have the apps removed or removed from the Google Play Store by May 5th.

Over the past year or so, Google has slowly turned down app permissions on Android, and this latest move to limit broad app visibility is another small but important step to increase the security of our apps and devices. And with Google set to force developers to build apps designed for Android 11 and later starting in November, we should see a significant improvement in Android’s security going forward.


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