Permissions on Android -- Yikes?

Discussion in 'Alternatives to iOS and iOS Devices' started by GrumpyMom, Jul 23, 2016.

  1. GrumpyMom macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
    Please be patient with me as I am a complete noob understanding this. Anyway as I contemplate getting Note7 when it comes out, I have been examining the Google Play store to check out the apps that I saw recommended various places like Android Central. I also wanted to see what my options for FB are like on Android.

    Well so far even the most basic apps that I would think would be unobtrusive and not want or need to go poking around in my phone are described as wanting such alarming permissions as:

    This app has access to:
    • find accounts on the device
    • find accounts on the device
    • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
    • read the contents of your USB storage

    The above was for a very simple program to learn Japanese. The ones for Facebook...OMG! :eek::confused:

    Am I misinterpreting the advisory on Google Play and freaking out (mildly) over nothing? Why would a language app that does not utilize my contacts as part of the utility of the program want to find accounts on the device? That was at least the most modest permissions list I saw.

    Many other apps would apparently have access to my browser history and messages and call logs. Wth? And I did read you can now turn off these permissions in Marsmallow, but doesn't the program grab all that data and relay it somewhere before you get a chance to shut down the permissions?

    Or does it work like iOS which pops up polite requests that you can deny as the program seeks to activate each permission? Thanks for any help in clarifying this for me and I apologize for my vast ignorance.
  2. Hal~9000 macrumors 68000


    Sep 13, 2014
    It's good that you're aware of app permissions. I'd say most people aren't and blindly hit the install button without a second thought.

    As a general rule I'd say simply only use apps of developers that you trust. Android takes a lazy all-or-nothing approach to app permissions so it's on the user to be careful. Android N fixes this though by introducing iOS style individual app permissions.

    As for 'freaking out' that you described ;) I'd say it's largely unneeded. If you actually looked through all the fine print of ANY agreements you signed throughout your life I'm sure you'd find a bunch of scary crap in those contract's too. Just because an app has access to certain things on your phone doesn't mean it's malware sending all your personal info to china.

    The main thing is to be aware, do your research on the app reviews (either play store or online), only use apps you feel you can trust, and relax.
  3. Ulenspiegel macrumors 68030


    Nov 8, 2014
    Land of Flanders and Elsewhere
    Your question (shall I say doubt) is absolutely logical.
    Some time ago in one of the threads we had a talk about this "strange" phenomenon.
    There is no need for an application you have mentioned to access Identity, Contacts, Photos/Media/Files.
    It was one of the reasons I left the Google Data Miner World.
  4. cynics macrumors G4

    Jan 8, 2012
    If you compare the permissions that app ask for in iOS you'll likely find they are similar. For example sharing something within the app will ask for access to your contacts and saving an image of an award for an accomplishment will ask for access to photos. So a lot of these permissions aren't completely unfounded, just things you might not think about when you first get the app.

    iOS ask for these one at a time and as needed so it seems to make more sense. For example if you get that accomplishment and want to save it and it ask for access to photos...well it makes sense because you see what its trying to do and why.

    If its a trustworthy dev then you have little to worry about. For example "Memrise" which you may be referring too is going to be safe to use on both platforms. If you aren't referring to Memrise I would suggest it if you are trying to learn Japanese. :D
  5. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    Actually, that's already apart of Marshmallow. I get individual permission pop ups.
  6. GrumpyMom thread starter macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
    Thank you, I try to be an informed consumer.

    So far I'm just trying to figure out whom I can trust and with what. I am stuck using Facebook and Messenger, for example. I don't fear my data will go to hackers in China but even on iOS those two apps grow more intrusive and demanding with each update. I've temporarily deactivated my account while I take stock of alternative apps and assess what they're doing.

    When reading comments on the Android version as well as reading their permissions list, I was just floored by the extent to which they are trying to take over people's phones and information.

    I'm extremely protective of my contacts list because that is the information entrusted to me by other people. It's bad enough to intrude on my privacy, but don't anyone dare touch my friends and family and business contacts. Messenger should be used strictly with the contact information my friends provide to FB, not their contact info that's entered separately into my phone.

    At least this intrusion is more transparent on Android. I'm not sure yet what is taking place on IOS. Every time I attempt to use FB or messenger I am having to stomp on attempts to integrate both apps with all the data on my iPhone. It's going to cause a ruckus among my friends but I think I'm about done with FB. :mad:
  7. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    I deny plenty of permissions. Doesn't affect apps unless to actually use apart of the app that requires that permission.
  8. GrumpyMom thread starter macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
    Thank you. The software I was looking at was "Human Japanese" by Brak Software.

    When installing new apps on Marshmallow do the permissions get accessed by default immediately upon installation, or do they pop up as notification requests as the app attempts to access the data on my phone when I actually go to use the app? (As happens in iOS)

    That is what I need clarified to me at the kindergarten level.

    I have seen discussions of more liberal permissions access on older versions of Android but right now the big kerfluffle in Marshmallow seems to be a problem with conflicts between overlays and permissions. That's another can of worms altogether, I suppose.
  9. LIVEFRMNYC macrumors 604

    Oct 27, 2009
    They pop up individually first time the app requests. If you "allow", then it will not ask you for that permission again, and you'll have to go into application manager under settings to change it.

    If you "deny", it depends on the actual app if it keeps asking. Some apps check everything as it opens which causes it to ask for permissions previously denied. With other apps you'll only be asked again if you try to use a function of an app that needs a previously denied permission.

    Rarely an app(especially games by big brands) will refuse to intially run for the first time unless you allow all permissions. But you can go to application manager and deny permissions and the app will continue to function properly.
  10. GrumpyMom thread starter macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
    Thank you so much! That's exactly what I wanted to know!

    I'm satisfied with that state of affairs.
  11. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    so you heading to android for sure then?
  12. GrumpyMom thread starter macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
    Yes. I think it's time I expand my horizons and I think I will enjoy the S-Pen. I'm reading up a lot on that feature and practicing on this older Note Tablet I am borrowing.

    But I'm not abandoning iOS. I'm still very interested in IOS 10. I'll still have the SE. And I may end up not trading my 6SPlus in for the Note7 on AT&T because my husband has taken an interest in the rumor that T-Mobile will offer a BOGO deal on the Note7. He's been away from Android for a couple of years himself and would like a nice device to get back into Android again. If T-Mobile does make that offer we will be getting his&hers Note7's for my birthday. :)

    It's funny but somebody else always gets a present on my birthday. My birthday is one of the most anticipated ones in the family. :D

    I'm pretty sure I won't hate Android. I may end up preferring iOS over it but it's hard to aggravate me enough to hate anything. (Edit to add that Facebook had to really make the effort to earn my contempt). Anyway, I won't know until I try. I like this Samsung tablet well enough but the display is not the nicest and I'm spoiled on good displays these days.
  13. The Game 161 macrumors P6

    The Game 161

    Dec 15, 2010
    What tablet you got?
  14. GrumpyMom thread starter macrumors 604


    Sep 11, 2014
    It's a Samsung GT-N5110. 16 Gb. This one I think:

    It's running Android 4.4.2 I've been playing around making calendar entries using the S-pen and working on my handwriting on it. Drawing mustaches on cats and goofy things like that. ;) I'm limited in how much I can mess around with it because my husband's stuff is still on it and all of his accounts. He does still use it on occasion but for what, I don't know.

    My husband was also setting me up an even older tablet I've used before and liked, a Nexus one, on Marshmallow but I haven't been given it yet. Hubby has been busy but he says it is ready and we will go over it together this weekend.
  15. MRU Suspended


    Aug 23, 2005
    1. It used google account instead of creating an account for you, thus if you logged into the app on another android device you could carry on from where you left off.

    2. Accounts - As above

    3. Likely had option to download translations / voice for offline use and therefore would need access to storage.

    As alarming as some of these permissions seem, they are more often than not utterly harmless and innocent.

    It is actually safe to take the tinfoil hat off ;) :p
  16. mrex, Jul 24, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016

    mrex macrumors 68030


    Jul 16, 2014
    Almost all apps (in playstore) are fine. Cant say all because i have reported few of them for Google and Google has removed those apps. Those apps were apps that had ridiculous rights and only few downloads - other common similarity was that devs were in asia, random names - no companies (but that doesnt mean that you cannot trust devs from asia!).

    It is always good to check feedbacks before downloading.. Especially if there are only few downloads and the developer is unknown. I wouldnt download those apps..

    I have seen apps and devs to explain each permissions for the app. Devs should do it more. For examle HDWidgets (by cloudtv) has a link on the app description to their site and they have explained why the permission is needed.

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