Google restricts Android apps from seeing other installed apps
In Google’s continuous effort to upgrade its privacy and security policies, the company is now limiting the use of broad app visibility to see which other apps are installed. Starting May 5, Google will only allow the apps that meet specific requirements to see which other apps are installed in a device.
In Google’s announcement of the upcoming changes to the Developer Program Policy, the company stated only select apps will be allowed to use the “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” permission a.k.a. broad app visibility. Those apps must be targeting an API level 30 (Android 11) or more, and their proper functioning must be dictated by the awareness of other apps. In case an app can run with a more “targeted scoped package visibility declaration,” developers should stop using the “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” permission.
Apps such as file managers, browsers, antivirus, and a few others that need broad app visibility to work properly will be allowed to use it, but only if the developer fills the Declaration Form in the Play Console.
Google is giving a 30-day grace period to all Android developers, allowing them to adapt to the new policies. If developers do not comply, they risk having their app removed by May 5.
According to Google Personal and Sensitive Information policy, the inventory of installed apps on a device is considered to be personal and sensitive data. This means that as per Google’s guidelines, this information cannot be sold nor shared for analytics or ads monetization purposes.
The new Google policies are a step in the right direction to a more private and secure mobile environment. Maybe it will even help Android devices to reduce the amount of data they send to Google servers.