Google will limit which Android 11 apps can see other installed apps on a device

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on April 03, 2021

Apps that do not comply with the policy changes or do not submit a Declaration Form may be removed from Google Play.

Google will soon limit the apps that can access the other apps that users have on their phone, as part of new Developer Program Policy changes that will come into effect May 5, 2021.

Apps on Android 11can currently request the “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” permission which “controls access to the inventory of installed apps on a device.”

As part of a new Package Visibility policy within the Developer Program policy, the tech giant will be more selective as to what apps can request the “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” permission (via XDA Developers).

“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 in a post on the support page.

“If your app does not meet the requirements for acceptable use below, you must remove it from your app’s manifest,” it said.

Developers will have 60 days to comply with changes.

Furthermore, for developers whose apps meet the requirements to use the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission, they will be required to fill a Declaration Form in the Play Console.

Apps that do not comply with the policy changes or do not submit a Declaration Form may be removed from Google Play.

The change will only take effect when an app targets Android API level 30 or later on devices running Android 11 or later.

As for the apps that can use the permission, “Permitted use involves apps that must discover any and all installed apps on the device, for awareness or interoperability purposes may have eligibility for the permission. Permitted use includes; device search, antivirus apps, file managers, and browsers,” the tech giant said.

“Apps granted access to this permission must comply with the User Data policies, including the Prominent Disclosure and Consent requirements, and may not extend its use to undisclosed or invalid purposes,” it said.

Apps that are part of an exception and that may be permitted to use the permission include those that have a “verifiable core purpose involving financial transaction functionality.” For instance, dedicated banking or dedicated digital wallet apps.

Such apps may obtain broad visibility into installed apps “solely for security-based purposes,” as per the new policy.

Apps that have a core purpose that do not require visibility into other apps will not be allowed to use the permission

“This includes Peer-to-Peer (P2P) sharing. P2P must be the core purpose of the app in order to qualify as a permitted use,” it said.

Furthermore, when apps acquire such data for the purpose of sale or when the required task can be done with a less broad app visibility method, the apps will not be allowed the use of the permission.

Published on April 03, 2021

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