Google will be more selective about which applications in the Play Store can see all other applications that have been installed (installed) on the user’s Android smartphone. This policy will take effect May 5, 2021.
This news was first announced by Ars Technica. Even though it looks harmless, a list of applications installed on Android devices can be used by application developers to find out user preferences. For example, dating preferences and political affiliations.
So, starting May 5, 2021, application developers must provide very good reasons why Google should allow developers to access such information, as quoted from The Verge, Monday (5/4/2021).
Android 11 apps that are currently requesting the “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” permission can view the complete list of apps that the user has stored on their device. Google recently updated its Developer Program Policies and now considers that info to be “sensitive and private user data,” restricting which apps are allowed to use it.
After the changes take effect in May, apps can only use permissions if “the functionality or purpose facing the core user requires broad visibility to the apps installed on the user’s device”.
Examples of applications that will be allowed to continue to use this permission include file managers, browsers, and antivirus applications that require data “for interoperability purposes”.
Banking applications, digital wallet applications, and other applications that involve a “financial transaction function” will be licensed “for security-based purposes.”
Apps that don’t have a justified use case can be removed from the Google Play Store. All developers who wish to retain permissions in their applications need to complete a declaration form justifying their use.