Google Restricts Developers From Tracking Android Apps On Your Phone; Here’s Why


Google often finds itself in the limelight when it comes to privacy and data security. However, Google is revising its policy, especially that concerning user data privacy. Additionally, Google is also revamping the Developer Program Policy and has announced a new update. Now, developers won't be able to see the Android apps installed on your phone.

Google Restricts Developers From Tracking Android Apps

Google Restricts Developers From Viewing Android Apps

Google has announced a stream of changes to the Developer Program Policy, especially for developers distributing apps through the Play Store. In a gist, Google is now restricting developers from seeing the list of Android apps installed on your device.

Going into the details, Google is now cutting down access to the use of QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission to developers. This permission allowed them to access to view the inventory of installed apps on any given device. Moreover, the new policy change extends to all apps that target API30+ on devices running Android 11 and newer.

Google Restricts Developers From Tracking Android Apps

Google took to its support page to update the latest policy change. "Play regards the device inventory of installed apps queried from a user's device as personal and sensitive information, and use of the permission is only permitted when your app's core user-facing functionality or purpose, requires broad visibility into installed apps on the user's device," Google said.

Google Policy Change Explained

Google has been revising its policy for the past few months. The latest policy change appears to be part of the initiative to restrict the use of high-risk/sensitive permissions for Android users. The latest update restricts and limits developers from accessing apps with less intrusive methods.

Google Restricts Developers From Tracking Android Apps

This further limits them to acc only a select number of Android apps. These apps include antivirus, file managers, device search, and browsers. That's not all. Google is further asking developers to "sufficiently justify why a less intrusive method of app visibility will not sufficiently enable your app's policy-compliant user-facing core functionality."


Google Makes Exceptions To Digital Wallets

However, there are a couple of exceptions to the new change in policy. The Android-maker is allowing a temporary exception to dedicated banking and digital wallet apps. In other words, developers at these digital wallets will continue to have access to see the installed apps on the Android device.

Google Restricts Developers From Tracking Android Apps

Google notes this is mainly for security reasons. Additionally, Google is giving a couple of invalid use cases for instances when the data is required for sale or use of the permission is not directly related to the core purpose of the app.

Google Policy Change: What It Means For End-User?

Google has been steadily bringing in changes to its platform. Previously, Google announced it would stop tracking browsing history to target ads. The latest change in policy falls in a similar line, especially when it comes to developers looking at installed apps on Android devices.

There are several benefits to this. Firstly, it would (hopefully) bring down the number of malicious apps on your Android smartphone. Also, it would reduce target advertising as their permission is cut off. That said, developers are known to find loopholes to continue fishing out data. Hence, it remains to see how well the new policy change will be executed.

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