Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 13th Dec 2013 15:40 UTC

Yesterday, we published a blog post lauding an extremely important app privacy feature that was added in Android 4.3. That feature allows users to install apps while preventing the app from collecting sensitive data like the user's location or address book.

After we published the post, several people contacted us to say that the feature had actually been removed in Android 4.4.2, which was released earlier this week. Today, we installed that update to our test device, and can confirm that the App Ops privacy feature that we were excited about yesterday is in fact now gone.

If there's one thing that needs some serious love in Android, it's the application permissions. I carefully look at them every time I install an application, but I'm guessing most people don't. While there's only so much stupidity technology can solve, Android's application permissions are, indeed, quite overwhelming at times. I'm not a particular fan of modal dialogs every time an application needs permission for something (the iOS way) either, so I'm not sure how this can be addressed in a user-friendly way.

App Ops seemed like a decent compromise that allowed for lots of finetuning of permissions, per application. Luckily, I'm using a custom ROM that re-enables it, Google be damned. Google claims App Ops may break some applications - well, that's not really any of my concern. If an application breaks because I do not give it permission to find out if I'm on the toilet or not - there's always an uninstall button.

So, Google better have some serious improvement in mind for application permissions, or they're just making sure regular users don't get into the habit of blocking Google's data collection. I hope the former, but I'm reasonably sure it's the latter.

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I'm using an Alcatel One Touch Fire, IMHO it's much better than the ZTE Open (more solid build, better screen, etc...) and costs about the same. More importantly it's not hard to root it and roll your own build (see the links below).

Personally I'm using a 1.2 build I made myself which has quite a few extra features compared to the 1.1 version with which this phone ships and is also much faster; the underlying Gecko engine was bumped from version 18 to 26 across those versions and the JS engine alone is almost two times faster. This build is also almost fully stabilized, IIRC it will be finalized 1-2 weeks from now.

If you don't feel adventurous though this phone should also get the 1.2 update from the vendor once they feel confident with it which probably means 3-6 months from now.

BTW the LG Fireweb is an even better device however it's not available on the free market yet (it's currently sold only in Brazil) and I am not yet aware of a method to root it in order to roll your own build.">Alcatel!msg/

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