And how we, the users, still need to take responsibility

Android permissions

There's been a lot of news lately about a lapse in either security or judgment -- both, really -- at Apple that allows iOS applications to borrow your contact data and send it off to parts unknown without your consent. Apple has addressed the issue to members of the U.S. Congress, and will take steps to hold tighter control in a future iOS update. That's good news, and we're glad to see it happening.

But what about Android? During all this focus on apps doing things without explicit user permission, you see people referring to the Android permissions model. We're going to break it all down for you.  It's not perfect, but it works pretty well -- and it's certainly better than no permission system at all.

Let's walk you through permissions on Android, and how you need to be sure to do you part.

By design, no Android application has permission to perform any operation that would "adversely impact other applications, the operating system, or the user."  For an app to have access to things like private contact data, another application's data, network access, or even something as mundane as writing its own data to the device storage, the app must declare that it will have permissions to do so, and then you must accept that permission before you can install the app. When you install an app, you're presented with a list of permissions that application is declaring.

And note that we say applications are "declaring" permissions, and not necessarily "requesting" them. Semantics, we suppose, but there's no box that says "Hey, Jerry! I'm an app, and I'd love for you to let me have a look at your contact information. That OK?" Instead, Android apps are more direct, saying "Yo, Jerry. I'm an app. Here's a list of what I can do, just sos ya know. Take it or leave it."

Android apps declare which permissions they have access to, and thus which sandboxes they can play in. And you can either choose to accept them and install the app, or not. Make sense?

Permissions - upfront and personal in the Android Market

Here's how it looks if you install, say, Path. You get the macro list of permissions that Path is declaring. Tap one, and it explains that permission in a little greater detail.

Path for AndroidPath for Android

That's how it looks if you install any application from the Android Market. You'll need to scroll through the list to see them all. A little ways down is the one that's gotten Path (and others) in all sorts of trouble on iOS. In its Android form, you can clearly see that Path declares the permission for "Your personal data - read contact data." Tap that permission, and you get more detail:

"Allows an application to read all of the contact (address) data stored on your phone. Malicious applications can use this to send your data to other people."

So Path has told you it has access to your contact data. It doesn't necessarily tell you what it's going to do with it (if we hadn't just brought it up, would you really want to know?), but it does tell you it can read it. 

Apps outside the Android Market

But what if you sideload an app? Or use the Amazon Appstore? Applications are still supposed to declare which permissions they use, and you see that permissions list when you install the app. (Remember that the Amazon Appstore sideloads apps, so what you see is exactly the same as if you installed an app from an e-mail or download.)

Here's what sideloading Gmail would look like. The only real difference between sideloading and installing from the Android Market, insofar as permissions go, is that when you sideload, you don't get the more detailed permissions descriptions.

Sideloading Gmail

Why all this? Android applications are "sandboxed" -- they play in their own space and have their own data files within that sandbox. They can only share play in someone else's sandbox after explicitly asking for permission, and that's done via the screens you see above. When you accept those permissions and install the app, you're giving that app permission to play in the sandboxes the app says it wants to play in.

On the developer side ... and how consumers must do their part

AndroidManifest permissions

Behind the scenes, app developers declare these permissions in the AndroidManifest.xml file, which is a required part of the source code for an Android app.  These declarations are static, and every one of them is presented to the user as we've seen above.  Android has no way for granting permissions dynamically at run-time, because according to the Android OS developers "it complicates the user experience to the detriment of security." Forcing an app to tell you what it wants to do, upfront, and never being able to change -- that's the utmost security model.

The flip side? It's also the easiest for users to ignore.

We know all about what happened with Path on iOS. Like many other iOS apps, it used the contact without permission. Not for nefarious purposes, but nonetheless, without any up-front permission, and without asking later. Path for Android sent all sorts of data to its servers, just like it did on iOS. But as we've showed in this post, in Android, Path has to declare the permission first. Or, more precisely, it declares permission, and you either accept or reject it.

Accept permissions

The problem is when you install an app, most likely you're going to breeze right past the permissions section. You really shouldn't, but we all do it. The fact that the permissions aren't written in plain language is part of the problem. But even if they were, most of us would click right past anyway.  That's juts how it is, on every platform. On the other hand, there are those who freak out over permissions because they don't understand them. Again, more user-friendly language would help here. 

One of the alternatives to this is to have the application ask for permissions at run-time, when it wants to do something it can't do normally. We've already read that the Android team thinks this is inconvenient and insecure, so it's not likely to happen.

BlackBerry permissions

Another alternative is to allow selected permissions, much like RIM does with BlackBerry. The you end up with applications that only half work because you denied permissions, just like BlackBerry. There's no real foolproof method, other than reading it all when you install that app and trying to understand what it's asking to do and why it's asking it.

That's where we all come in. Some of us understand application permissions more than others, and when an app does something it shouldn't ought to be doing, you hear the outcry. Read the permissions. Read the Market comments. Read Android Central. When something goes awry, you'll hear about it.

And one last thing ...

A special note needs to go here about security vulnerabilities. Every computer program -- and that means every mobile operating system, too -- is chock full of them. When a vulnerability is found that allows an application to bypass the security model, Google will patch it quickly. This happens, and it's always going to happen. How quickly this update gets rolled out to you depends on the people who make your phone. They deserve the credit when they do it the right way, and the scorn when they take too long and do it wrong.  That's not something that is going to go away any time soon, and we're right there with you to call out an OEM who doesn't keep things as safe and secure as they should be.

If you've looking to dive even deeper into Android permissions, check out the Google developer page on them.

 

Reader comments

Android app permissions - How Google gets it right ...

62 Comments

I love the way cm7 does permission. You can actually go into an app and revok any permission individually.

Agreed! Even though I've been using a android based device for a few months now, I still feel like a "n00b" at times when it comes to all of the ins-and-outs of some things about—especially the whole permissions thing. Never hurts to get a better understanding of what's going on with your devices and how some apps do (and don't) affect them.

One gripe I do have about Android and their permissions... is that many of the permissions are too general or too broad.

Android really could do better by breaking down some of the permissions to more specific functions.

Having these permissions in every app that the user has to accept is a good start, but as Jerry says, people just too often tap thru them and never pay any attention, and in many cases they don't understand them.

Something beyond the Install-time controls is needed.

If you decide sometime down the road that you don't want to be sharing your contacts or your location, how do you find all the apps that were installed previously to lock them down?

The next level is for Android to have an app that can show you a list of all
permissions, and the list of applications that can access any given permission, and offer a setting where you can choose to allow it or lock it out individually.

You might install an app that needs to access your contacts, for some trivial sharing feature, and then decide you want to deny it that permission (and forego that particular feature).

This would go a long way toward controlling abusive apps. You could use an app that has a useful feature while preventing it from doing things you don't want it to do. In some cases that might cause the app to fail. So be it.

But Android could just as well make the attempt to access a permission (say read contacts) fail safely (report that there are no contacts) when you had that permission shut off.

This is more in keeping with the Linux model, where simply because you have something installed doesn't mean it gets to access everything.

I dislike this response as much as anyone, but CyanogenMod (and probably others) have a feature to block permissions on a per-app basis. They actually do it by checking one box in settings, where you can then go into the Manage Applications sections, select different apps and just click on the permissions to disable/enable them.

I think that Cyanogen's system could be improved upon quite a bit, but even just at that level, it beats the hell out of the take it or leave it option.

There are also some apps in the market that do that. They all require root or course, and their interface is pretty reached.

I sorely miss this CyanogenMod feature now that I have my Bionic. The claim that anything more complicated than what we have would adversely affect the user experience is absolute BS. This is the same kind of thinking that caused Apple to remove Google Voice from their app store way back when - having two ways to dial your phone was too complicated for the dumb-ass users. Yes, CM's method could use some improvement, but it's infinitely better than stock Android.

Maybe the best solution of all is to allow an 'optional' flag next to permissions when the developer creates the app. Therefore they can specify which permissions are necessary for the app to work, which it needs for full functionality but are optional.

Therefore an app that needs access to your internet for crash debug purposes could be optional but an app that needs internet access for showing ads on their free version might mark it as necessary (whereas the permission wouldn't be needed or be optional on their paid version).

When you see the permissions request all optional permission have a tick box that you can untick.

This is actually an excellent suggestion, with one caveat: there would have to be some way of listing all features (or at least some descriptive text) that would not work as a result of removing each optional permission.

The way BlackBerry handles permissions is better. Regardless of the complaint that an application may not work properly or completely if a certain permission is denied by the user of the device, that user is put in full control of what can be done by an application, which is the entire point.

Most developers do NOT explain why applications request certain permissions, and they often make absolutely no sense based on the application's stated purpose, yet people still want that application. I have found myself not understanding why an application is requesting the ability to send and receive SMS messages when it is only supposed to provide me restaurant reviews or a fun game when waiting on someone. The developer may not respond to an email inquiry for weeks, if ever, so I have to decide whether to take a chance and download it or just skip it.

On a BlackBerry I could simply deny seemingly unnecessary permissions. On Android I can either install the application or not but I still am informed somewhat. On Windows Phone I can take it or leave it, just like Android, but I'm still informed. On iOS I just have to trust Apple and the developers (and I don't).

Actually CM7 has it right. BB still needs work. With BB an app can check to see if it has permission and if it doesn't it can shut itself shutdown. At least with Android you don't waist your time downloading the app.

With CM7 the app will install and the user can shutoff certain security features. However this cannot be done until the app is installed.

It would be nice if Android had a mix of CM7 and BB. Where the user can pick and chose during install, after install, or just accept all security settings before the install(as it behaves today).

=X=

considering this uproar and ICS feature borrowed from CM7 it's likely Android will implement this feature on future updates.

Fair enough, but the discussion did start as a result of an article considering official versions of OS releases. Considering the unofficial additions and changes that can be made to various mobile OS options you would be right.

As it stands, Android as released by Google and installed for me, without requiring that I hack, root, add-to, or anything else, does not offer as robust a security and application permission control for users as BlackBerry. It appears to equal Windows Phone and beats everything else. Additionally, it is the most informative of any of them.

Wow! didn't know this, exactly what I'm looking for. I agree a beforehand scan, like a lookout scan, would be a better time to do this, but at least a few apps that I don't think are malicious can be cleaned up.

Thx

ADS

To be honest, if apps are able to do so much, I rather Google allow the option for me to disable parts of the app. Sure, not everyone would like it but at least put something in the API where I can choose what permissions I want to grant the application and have an API that provides app developers a detection method when they don't have the permission to use a certain function, have it prompt the user.

Not only does it have to prompt the user, the app developer must declare what exactly the information is going to be used for.

This is way better than the "I demand these permissions, give it or leave it" model Android adopts now and frankly I really don't like this model.

I'm not even asking for this to be mandatory because frankly the general population doesn't really care because they're just too lazy but for those who do, give us that option to reject the permissions upon installation and if we want it in the future, when the app needs the permission, it'll prompt us saying that in order for it to do this, it needs our permissions and allows us to then decide again if we want it or not. Another part is that there must be a mechanism in Android Market or the app manager that also allows us to revoke permissions after initially granting them if we suddenly decide to no longer give them these permissions for whatever reason.

This is how proper app management suppose to be if Google and the app developers really cares about securing our information from being syphoned off to unknown third-party servers.

also want to mention that Cyanogenmod 7 has ability to revoke selected app's permissions since last year?

If you're rooted you're best installing a firewall as well. I do this for the few programs that I like but don't like some of their permissions. This way I can use it and not worry about it connecting to the outside world. :) Most of my games I run this way I block them from getting internet access.

Check this out.
Google recently pulled App Shield - a program that enabled non rooted phones to control permissions in apps. What!! This was stupid! It should be allowed and others also. The app is stable and there is absolutely no proof that any app it altered has any greater "vulnerability" problems than any other app. That is a crock. If that were true, a hacker could simply perform the same functions in the malware code that App shield uses to affect any app. We are being lied to.

Google is listening to whining app developers who want permissions to do whatever they want with our phones, much of which is unnecessary. Besides, we have security programs that monitor malicious activity. Let us take our own risk if we choose to. Put App Shield back.

Nosferatu524 has a good point. Most of us do not care if an app wants to play in a sandbox down the street (on our phone). We do care if they can take that info and leave the vicinity with it. And we should care.

Google does NOT have it right. I sincerely hope people from Google are reading this thread. The user gets screwed, when we should have the right to allow or deny specific permissions per app. Many people are saying just that in this thread.

Users want control of what happens on our phones and we deserve that right. When programs want access to information they have no business having, literally, we should be able to deny that access without loosing usage of the app, even if we choose to lose some functionality. Programs are asking for too much.

We need specific permission control or a good firewall that controls program access to the internet, like computers have.

The first company that comes up with a 2 way firewall for android will make over a million dollars. Or, if Google really wanted to serve the community properly, and increase its attractiveness over iOS, they should build it into the OS.

We should have the ability to install apps even after refusing to grant permissions, thus taking a chance to break (unwanted) functionality...

Android's permission system just feeds the paranoids who think the "black helicopters" are circling their house as they type. You can see it the comments on the Amazon free app of the day. They downgrade the app simply because they are too thick to understand why an app would need permissions, when a lot of times it obvious to those that have a brain and spend some time thinking about it.

That I agree with to an extent. Some permissions are legitimately ridiculous but you're right some you can easily deduce based on how the application plans on working.

It's never a bad idea to be too secure / aware but I will agree that some people think they are special out of the millions of users that they'll be singled out by the "black helicopters" lol

This, many times over. Unless you read the reviews on Amazon, the star rating is meaningless. If people are too dumb to understand they need to get an iphone which will tell you nothing about what they're up to.

Hehehe, funny....yet sadly true. And it's not even just Amazon (though it is predominantly there), you can see it on the Android market too. I always find it amusing to read some of the completely far out tin hat posters that will simply give an app 1 star or whatever because of some perceived "privacy violation" most of the other users (generally the ones that you can tell use their brains) won't even harp on that.

As long as you take the time to realize what the app is asking of your device, then take it from there and decide whether you feel OK with what it's doing.

LBE Security or Pdroid allow you to control each app individually. Pdroid actually lets you input "false" data for any app.

My problem is that a lot of permissions that apps request are ridiculous! I can't install a lot of apps because I look at the permissions and say no way, but now I'm out of an app I would otherwise like. I wish there was some recourse, like a way to submit a I'm not using your app because review. I have emailed some app devs and most ignore me but some respond saying that they use some ad service or whatever and it requires these permissions (even on a paid app!) Which seems like and even bigger reason not to trust the app to me!!

My problem is that a lot of permissions that apps request are ridiculous! I can't install a lot of apps because I look at the permissions and say no way, but now I'm out of an app I would otherwise like. I wish there was some recourse, like a way to submit a I'm not using your app because review. I have emailed some app devs and most ignore me but some respond saying that they use some ad service or whatever and it requires these permissions (even on a paid app!) Which seems like and even bigger reason not to trust the app to me!!

When declaring a permission (which should be more fine grained than they are) the author should also declare why they need it. I'd like to see optional permissions as well as permissions to specific folder within sdcard rather than have full access to all.

When an update to an application has to be manual due to changes in permissions, Android doesn't highlight the changed permission making this step almost completely useless.

You are mistaken on your last point. The new permissions are highlighted.

I agree with you on the first part, though.

If only Google could give users more control over apps permissions. Many app makers just abuse the Android permission model and ask for more permission that the real needs of the apps. Privacy control app like LBE Privacy Guard is probably the best one of its kind. Gracefully denies permissions so apps won't force closed. Downside is phone must be rooted.

Oh no’s!!!!
Google better patent their apps permission model real quick!!!!
Before apple applies for the patent, and is granted. And “magically” they will forever be know as the ones who invented it!

I didn't know BB's worked with this way, and I do wish someone like Lookout would provide an"all powerful" supervisory program to intercept calls to address book, etc. Two parts since we all have loads of apps: 1. initial report of what apps have what, sent in a table to email so you could look it over. part b of this, some intelligence of what seems reasonable. 2. a checkpoint for each new app installed to confirm, by permission type, what it allows an app to pass or not.
To illustrate: in this case, why does "path" need access to my phone OR my contacts? There may be some reason for phone, but you can't read about what that function is in the app description, and contacts? another: Key Ring. There is NOTHING in the description that says why it needs "phone calls - phone number and serial number of this phone". I'd like to use the actual loyalty card feature, but this is crap.
A supervisory app that would let Key Ring do it's base function and not allow access to the phone would be GREAT!
And I've written a few app providers on permissions, most haven't answered.
So yeah, Jerry, I completely agree, we get 'weak' because we want function and often accept this stuff. But with no better info from the apps on what function they provide that actually needs (or actually shouldn't need) perms, it is next to impossible for anyone unfamiliar with permissions to even navigate this at a useful level.

ADS

"The problem is when you install an app, most likely you're going to breeze right past the permissions section. You really shouldn't, but we all do it."

Speak for yourself. Not all of us are careless and stupid.

While I agree with your sentiment, it's important to remember that the majority of readers on this site are going to fall into the "Power User" category. Your average user, generally, doesn't pay any attention to these permissions largely because they don't understand them.

That, said. Your point is valid because Jerry should realize that he's speaking primarily to the tech-savvy readers of this site ;)

But his intentions are good, and we should all take them and spread them out to the world to try and prevent those average users from making mistakes. Also, there is the hope that Google is paying attention to sites like this and is actually reading these articles and comments. One can hope, right?

Reality check. I skipped the comments, but loved the article. Let me boil things down to the simple facts of life.

Imagine a line. On the one end is convienience. On the other is security. You want Super security? Great! No problem! Just know in advance it's going to be a Super pain in the backside. You want convienience? Hey, we can do that too! But... its not going to be secure.

Its all about balance. Finding the best way to feel secure while still being convienient. From locking your doors to apps on android, its just the way it is. Security vs convienience. That's that.

And before I get flamed to badly, its past 1am. I just got home from work. So if my grammar or spelling is kinda wonky, take my apology in advance.

There is some truth to this from a practical standpoint, but very, very little of the functions these devices provide cannot be made secure w/o too much complexity, and as the implementations improve, for those less technical, a "slider" like many platforms offer, could choose a lot of this for you yet let one better control their tolerance for risk. It isn't either or for 98% of the function out there. Want that last 2%, then I agree, often some harder choices to be made.
ADS

Hold up Jerry. You got one very big thing wrong in this post: Apple never condoned apps using this data. It is expressly against the terms of writing apps for iOS. Where Apple messed up was that they didn't close off the access until they had a permission system in place.

I'm probably too paranoid about permissions, but for nearly 20 years I was taught and followed the rule that you never ever download or install anything from a source you don't know and trust. My smartphone as such OS pretty bare of apps.. I look through the market every so often see things I might find useful, but then I read the permissions, wonder why a grocery list app wants access to text messages, and end up skipping just about anything not from a big name like Google, Adobe, or Netflix.

Still goes back to app devs need to explain it in the description.

The Grocery List could've been up to no-good. Or it simply had an option to text an item or list to someone. Like a wife to a husband who's on his way home....

Great article! I have a perfect example. The latest Pandora update had a new permission request, it wants permission to read all of your contacts. Why would a music player want my contacts unless they want to be able to send crap to them. So guess what, I didn't update to the new version and I even removed it from my phone cause I really didn't use it anyway.

It so you can share your stations with your contacts. Or at least that's what they had explained that about year ago.

But like all apps, they never explain their permissions. That would at least help a little. Of course, there will always be those that wouldn't believe them anyway...

And this right here is why we don't have a true user-controlled permissions system. Google will look at the bad rating and comment that this person leaves in the Market, then they will have to deal with devs complaining about uninformed users and the spam of complaints, and then they'll decide that they don't want to give users the option to break apps left and right. It's simply not worth the hassle to them or the devs.

The reason CM7's permission system works is because those users are (for the most part) much more informed on how Android works.

BB does more than half work, noticed you couldn't resist putting that in, Love my BB for what it is supposed to do. I use both an Android device and a BB and trust me the BB does what it is supposed to do much better..

When reviewing permission settings, I have to be able to make an educated decision if I want to allow the requested settings.

I do not believe for a minute that black helicopters are circling above my location, and I am not too thick to get why an app may need certain rights to function. I would simply like a choice in partial use of an app. If I like the grocery list app mentioned above, but have no intentions of ever texting it to someone, why would the app developer have a problem with letting me download it with limited permissions? Simply tell me what I might be missing out on by restricting the permission in a clear, non-generic way and therefore enable me to make an educated decision. Even better: if I want to text the list to someone allow for the one time use of a permission. Why would they need card blanche?

I recently de-installed an app for my favorite radio station. It wanted to access the Internet (made sense) - but anytime, without me activly using the app (made no sense to me). But what really made the decision to de-install easy for me was the permission to take pictures and even movies with my camera any time of whatever the camera could see at the moment. Excuse me? For that one I really would want an explanation before agreeing to it. And - what is my radio station doing with those pictures after taking them?

Perhaps if every app came with a "yes I asked you upfront for all the permissions, here is what I did with them" function, I might trust them more.

If the development of apps is more costly with my desired options, perhaps I should have the option of paying for an app instead of a free version that harvests all kinds of data without telling me what for. Be transparent and then people may trust them more. App developers could use it as a selling point and perhaps increase their revenue by doing so.

By the way, I am looking for a user-friendly app that tells me what my apps "have been up to". Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Ive both and rooted my lg revolution. My iphone is also jailbroke. Im sorry but no android comes close to ios and ive had many android devices. Still i keep one of each. Lol cm7 does allow for perm. Tweaks but it also screws up the apps most time. Now with google caught in the privacy scandal...my android will be goin byebye, if they breach ios then God only knowz what they can do with the os they own (android). Now my ios is ofcourse jailbroke and my phone is UNBREACHABLE by the weak exploit google was usi

ng, which in reality was nothing but a cookie thief and wbdata installer. my brain dead mom could stop that breach haha. anyway read before u agree and research ALL variations of cm7 and app tweaking or u will only uber fuck ur apps Nd they r useless...

And if any of u think that apple OR google(android) give a damn about ur convience...u r f***ing stupid ( not sayin that to anyone paticular) they care for one thing only!!!! Making money off u in EVERY WAY POSSIBle!!!! Man everybody collects and sells ur info. Dont like it do install, but guess what...no install no havin iphone/android because truly apps are what run them and that is what they count on...duh. get used to it or stop usin them. basically in lamens terms THEY DONT GIVE A FUCK WHAT U LIKE!!!! A SUCKERS BORN EVERY 15 MINS. if i had been caught doin what google did i would be in federal prison for hacking, hmmm wonder what will happen to google??? NOT A DAMN THING!!!! HOWS THAT FOR FUCK U TO YOUR FACE!!!!

Hey mate, good article covering all the basics, although you may want to use spell-check when posting next time

The issue I have with the Android apps when it wants to get permission is ... WHY?

If I download a Battery Meter app, WHY the FUDGE does the app Require access to my personal contacts? My telephone number? My location?

Can someone explain WHY the app needs to access that information when all it's going to do is measure the battery life?!

Why aren't people up in arms with the developers who want permission to "access" information that is NOT "truly needed" to run the app?

Thanks to articles like this one, I'm learning more about permissions. What I don't understand is why the obvious solution of all is not mentioned in these articles or employed by googleplay: make app developers explain why they need each permission. Yes, it might take a while to read such info, but it would make all the difference in my willingness to purchase an app that declares a lot of permissions. And as developers began to add these rationales, consumers would become more informed overall and be better equipped to detect malicious or risky business.

Ok I am new to android and this issue is very upsetting.
I came from Nokia smartphone and apps were not as good so I went for android but never new nothing about permissions. just checked and it seems there is no permissions on Nokia apps. So who knows what it does.

As far as I understand this issue it is all about collecting info about u and selling it for profit for advertising. ( like battery monitor will want ur contacts so they can advertise to them) ( my friends story, he walks on high street with new android and as he is passing kfc he receives sms with ad ,,how about lunch at kfc with the address where he is just passing?) and p.m. top of that they give them selves some room for some actions they may not /normally do but they might use to make more money in future. Like selling ur GPS coordinates to black
hhelicopters. It's all big brother society.

I would not recommend any unknown developers products. And with the known u never know anyway ( who can get ur all details and passwords to everything u do including mobile banking)

It's all about money and like Draven said above. They dont give....
Overall I am very disappointed with this experience and I dont think u will see any improvement in many many years.

By the way if u disable certain permissions if that would be option the minute u anable it for one off use of the app, they will have all they want from u anyway so it would miss the point or u miss the point of the app. U r stuck again, ha?
Goodluck

Ok I am new to android and this issue is very upsetting.
I came from Nokia smartphone and apps were not as good so I went for android but never new nothing about permissions. just checked and it seems there is no permissions on Nokia apps. So who knows what it does.

As far as I understand this issue it is all about collecting info about u and selling it for profit for advertising. ( like battery monitor will want ur contacts so they can advertise to them) ( my friends story, he walks on high street with new android and as he is passing kfc he receives sms with ad ,,how about lunch at kfc with the address where he is just passing?) and p.m. top of that they give them selves some room for some actions they may not /normally do but they might use to make more money in future. Like selling ur GPS coordinates to black
hhelicopters. It's all big brother society.

I would not recommend any unknown developers products. And with the known u never know anyway ( who can get ur all details and passwords to everything u do including mobile banking)

It's all about money and like Draven said above. They dont give....
Overall I am very disappointed with this experience and I dont think u will see any improvement in many many years.

By the way if u disable certain permissions if that would be option the minute u anable it for one off use of the app, they will have all they want from u anyway so it would miss the point or u miss the point of the app. U r stuck again, ha?
Goodluck

"So Path has told you it has access to your contact data. It doesn't necessarily tell you what it's going to do with it (if we hadn't just brought it up, would you really want to know?), but it does tell you it can read it."

- Are you a complete fool?

I am a mortgage broker and I have data and information on my phone that is not only private to me - but private to others as well.... stuff that could destroy their financial lives if stolen.

...and your app permission allowing you to snap away with my camera at whatever it happens to be looking at is violating my privacy AND the privacy of everything my camera happens to be pointing at! Maybe we need to inform the state department not to bring their cell phones into the war room!!

So you want to say now, "Well, rk, just remove the apps that have those permissions!" - well what about the ones I CAN'T REMOVE BECAUSE THE PHONE VENDOR HAS PLACED THEM THERE??? Like ATT Navigator when "Maps" works just fine but you can't remove navigator and its excessive permissions??

Any LAWYERS OUT THERE????

Are you kidding?? Seriously?? You think this can stand?????

What I want to know is why in the hell they need access to my mic and camera? ! I don't go to all of the trouble to secure my phone just to give full access of it over the GD google ! I got out of a windows phone because there were so few apps and now I don't want any of these apps after seeing this .

I basically disagree with this article. There's a saying that sophistication hides most of the complexity of the underlying system from you and the lack thereof basically just reflects the complexity back onto the user. Based on this criteria, and based on my current experience as a professional Android developer, my impression is that Android basically reflects the complexity of the permissioning system, in all it's confusing complexity, back onto the user. There's typically so much information there, most of it actually irrelevant to the end user, that the end user cannot make heads or tails out of it.

Even I basically no longer look at the permissions that an application requests, when I am about to install an application. It's just too confusing.

Probably, the Android team needs to look at adding a layer on top of the permissioning system that can present a more meaningful synopsis of the permissioning than what's already being presented. Again, currently, there's just so much information being presented, it's not comprehensible to the end user..