Google to limit apps from accessing installed app list on Android

By Ashika Rajan, Trainee Reporter
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Global tech giant Google is making several improvements to its Developer Program Policies that will limit the use of high-risk or sensitive permissions by any app, including access to an Android device’s list of installed apps.

In other words, no app will be permitted to access an Android device’s installed app inventory unless it is needed to perform its core user-facing functionality. To comply with the new rules, Google says that if a developer’s app does not meet the criteria for appropriate use, they must delete it from the app’s manifest.

According to a post on Google’s Play Console Help support page, the updates to the Developer Program Policy will take effect on May 5. The company says that this is done because Google Play regards “the device inventory of installed apps queried from a user’s device as personal and sensitive information.”

This can be interpreted as another step toward bolstering consumer privacy security. For example, this mandatory reform would make it more difficult for developers to spy on what apps are installed on your phone. Links to an Android device’s app inventory may be used for targeted advertising or malicious purposes.

As previously stated, if a developer’s app does not meet the criteria for appropriate app inventory use, it must be removed from the manifest. If the app follows the policy requirements for acceptable app inventory use, the high-risk permissions must be declared using the Declaration Form in the Play Console.

Apps that do not comply with policy specifications or developers do not submit a Declaration Form can be removed from Google Play. To comply with policy changes, the declaration must be revised and updated with correct details if there are any changes. It’s worth noting that the inventory access permission is only active when an app targets Android API level 30 or higher on Android 11 or later devices.

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