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Google Play will prevent apps from spying on all the apps

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Until now, applications were able to know which other apps were installed on the same phone, but this will soon change: Google Play will prevent the phone’s software from accessing the list of installations. It will apply from May 5 and there will be exceptions for certain types of apps.

Every time we install an application it gains access to certain parts of the phone. To find out more information, usually necessary for the app to work, the software asks the user for permissions, which the user grants manually and automatically when installing it. Until now all Android apps could find out what other software they shared the device with, but Google Play has decided to put a stop to this with a permission restriction that will come into effect very soon.

The ‘QUERYALLPACKAGES’ permission will be restricted from May 5th

Knowing which applications the user has installed is not only important for some apps that seek to offer a security and maintenance service, it is also of enormous value for all companies that trade in usage data. The purpose of many applications is to require the list of installed apps to use the information for their benefit; An attack on privacy that Google intends to nip in the bud.

Google Play will prevent apps from spying on all the applications on your phone
Google Play will prevent apps from spying on all the applications on your phone

As of May 5, all applications that target API level 30, which came into force with Android 11, will be banned from using ‘QUERYALLPACKAGES’, permission that allows obtaining the list of all apps on the Android device. This limitation will prevent developers from obtaining information that their app does not need, but always passively: It will be the developer who will have to comply with the fair use policy.

Apps that will be able to make use of the ‘QUERYALLPACKAGES’ permission are those dedicated to on-device search, virus and malware scanning, file managers, and web browsers. Also, apps that need to create a security framework; Such as banking and digital wallet apps.

Google relies on the responsibility of developers as it will not automatically block the use of permission. In case it detects improper activity it will sanction the developer.

The limitation to obtain the list of installed applications will start next May 5, 2021. It will be a voluntary restriction since Google Play will not apply automatic blocks to apps that try to activate the ‘QUERYALLPACKAGES’ permission. However, in case Google detects an incorrect use, the company can suspend the application and even the developer’s account.

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