Tuesday, May 28, 2013

App Permissions model in Android is broken

I strongly feel that the App Permissions model on Android is seriously broken. Here is why.

Why Permissions?
Permissions are a way to allow/block apps from accessing data and phone's services upon users' discretion.

How is it broken on Android?
In Android, when you install an app, you are shown a list of privileged features that the app is allowed to use. If you are satisfied with the permissions, the app uses, you install the app or cancel it. This is where it goes wrong. No one uses the list of permissions to make a decision whether to install the app or not. It is the trust and brand recognition on the basis of which users install the app. Suppose, you want to block one particular permission for an app. You can't do that. Either you allow all the permissions, or you don't install the app. Take the example of the Facebook for Android app. I don't want it to access my contacts list. Because it is a notorious app. It automatically sends friend requests to everyone in your contacts list if they are on Facebook. Although, this hasn't happened to me but it has happened to some of my friends who are not well versed with technology. So, probably the receptionist at XYZ hotel where you stayed an year ago, or an employee at ABC company whom you met in the lobby for showing you the way to conference room and the person handling customerservice@PQRtransportCompany.com too gets a friend request from you on Facebook. Clearly, you don't want the Facebook app to access your contacts list but you want it to Access the Internet and Save data to SDCard. But Android doesn't let you only block the Contacts Access permission and allow Internet Access and SDCard Access. You either don't install Facebook or let it be notorious.

What do I want Android permissions model to be like?

  • The user should be able to grant all or some of the permissions to the app, when installing.
  • After installation, the user should be able to grant other permissions, or revoke existing ones.
  • There should be a panic mode or something similar, which when enabled will show a prompt to the user for each privileged permission access.

16 comments:

Elizabeth J. Neal said...

I strongly feel that the App Permissions model Moviles android on Android is seriously broken. Here is why.

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