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

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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RE: Comment by Nelson
by darknexus on Fri 13th Dec 2013 16:45 UTC in reply to "Comment by Nelson"
darknexus
Member since:
2008-07-15

This lets users make a decision when it actually matters and when they're less inclined to just click through the dialog.

You mean the same way UAC doesn't?

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[2]: Comment by Nelson
by Nelson on Fri 13th Dec 2013 16:52 in reply to "RE: Comment by Nelson"
Nelson Member since:
2005-11-29

Uh, sure. I guess.

Reply Parent Score: 3

RE[2]: Comment by Nelson
by Drumhellar on Fri 13th Dec 2013 17:14 in reply to "RE: Comment by Nelson"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

Well, the warnings in WP are specific - "Needs location information," "Needs access to your address book."

Each one is different, short, and actually explains what is actually going on in a single line of text, while UAC prompts are none of these things.

Reply Parent Score: 7

RE[3]: Comment by Nelson
by darknexus on Fri 13th Dec 2013 18:01 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Nelson"
darknexus Member since:
2008-07-15

Well, the warnings in WP are specific - "Needs location information," "Needs access to your address book."

Each one is different, short, and actually explains what is actually going on in a single line of text, while UAC prompts are none of these things.

Doesn't change users' behavior, unfortunately. Give them a click-through and they'll click through it to get what they want.

Reply Parent Score: 5

RE[3]: Comment by Nelson
by Bill Shooter of Bul on Fri 13th Dec 2013 18:25 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Nelson"
Bill Shooter of Bul Member since:
2006-07-14

What happens if you decline the permission?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by Nelson
by WorknMan on Fri 13th Dec 2013 19:00 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by Nelson"
WorknMan Member since:
2005-11-13

Well, the warnings in WP are specific - "Needs location information," "Needs access to your address book."


If I'm getting multiple prompts for every app I install, that sounds like it could get incredibly annoying, very quickly.

Reply Parent Score: 3