How Google's New App Policy Makes You Safer

A more secure experience

Key Takeaways

  • Google is making it more difficult for certain apps to access other apps’ info on your smartphone. 
  • Apps that don’t comply with the new policy risk being removed from the Google Play store. 
  • Experts say Android users will see benefits in their overall security as well as fewer targeted ads.
A laptop showing the Google Play logo on the screen.

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Google is seriously cracking down on which Android apps get access to your phone’s installed apps. 

The tech giant is restricting "broad app visibility" to specific apps to provide more security for Android users. While Google’s new policy is a step in the right direction for better security on your device, experts say it is an overall huge win for customer protection.

"Users should feel much more secure under Google's new restrictions," wrote Ravi Parikh, CEO at RoverPass, to Lifewire in an email. 

"Google taking a stance about this is a big deal, especially since Android users represent a wide swath of the smartphone user market."

Taking a Stance on Privacy

Apps on the Google Play store now have to give the company a solid reason to receive Query_All_Packages permission or access to the info regarding other apps in a user’s phone. Permitted reasons include "device search, antivirus apps, file managers, and browsers," according to the new policy

The policy states that permission will be "restricted to specific use cases where awareness of and/or interoperability with any and all apps on the device are required for the app to function."

Apps that don’t edit or update their information by May 5 risk being removed or delisted from the Google Play store.

"Though there are a lot of popular apps that are affected by the restriction, it is still vital to the security of users while using apps."

Google’s new policy affects apps in Android 11’s API Level 30, so while the restrictions won’t be immediate, over the next year, they will become the new norm as more people switch over to Android 11. 

Experts say what all this means is that apps will have a harder time getting access to information from the other apps on your phone, increasing your phone’s security. 

"The action plan of Google in restricting which Android app can access your installed list of apps is an innovation to security," wrote Tim Robertson, the founder of inVPN.com, in an email to Lifewire.

"Though there are a lot of popular apps that are affected by the restriction, it is still vital to the security of users while using apps."

How Android Users Benefit 

Experts say the two main things Android users will see as a result of the policy change are more security and less targeted ads. 

For security, sensitive information like dating preferences, political affiliations, passwords, banking info, and more will be better protected. 

"Given that apps will have to demonstrate their need to interact with other apps for them to be allowed access to the full list of installed apps, we should expect lesser cases of data breaches from third-party apps," wrote Ella Hao, head of marketing at WellPCB, in an email to Lifewire. 

Attendees at the Google Play 'Change the Game' VIP event at E3 in 2018.
Attendees at the Google Play 'Change the Game' VIP event at E3 in 2018.

Vivien Killilea / Getty Images

On the advertising side, Solomon Thimothy, co-founder of Clickx, noted users would see less of the annoying targeted ads many people receive daily. 

"The collection of the list of installed apps is done to make ads more personalized because knowing what other apps you have installed on your smartphone can actually reveal a lot about you," Timothy wrote to Lifewire. 

"When this information is no longer easily available, this might hinder advertisers from putting out ads that somehow 'know' you."

Parikh added that these targeted ads use the other apps on your phone to essentially "talk" to each other, making it super invasive for smartphone users. 

"For example, after downloading an app, it could market baby products to you because the software detected a pregnancy-related app on your phone," Parikh said. "People fail to realize how deep it goes."

Overall, if you have an Android phone, you'll start to see better security and fewer ads thanks to the policy change —a win-win for Android users.

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