Google Play Store app

Important permissions bundled into a primary group, with common permissions relegated to a secondary screen

Google is pushing out a new version of the Google Play Store app. The biggest change in recent versions (we're currently at 4.8.20) as we see it so far is that the permissions you see listed when you install an application have been scaled way back and are almost written in English.

That's long been a complaint of ours. Permissions are a tricky thing to explain properly, as apps often need access to things like the Internet or your contacts. But giving detailed technical explanations sometimes does more harm than good. Now, permissions have been placed into groups.

Here's how Google puts it:

To help make it easier to understand what an app will have access to, the Play Store has recently made improvements to how permissions are displayed. Permissions are organized into permissions groups, easily identified by icons (example: Location Location) to help clarify the most important information and capabilities an app can access on your device. This information can help you make an informed decision more easily on whether you would like to install the app.

Using the Android Central app as an example, you'll be told that our app "uses one or more of: files on the device such as images, videos, or audio, the device's external storage."

Android Central App Permissions

Things have changed a bit in the traditional desktop browser as well. There's once again a link to view permissions without having to hit the install button (that's a good change), and there you'll also see that our app has full network access, can set a wallpaper and view your network connections.

The idea, Google says in its support page, is to move common permissions — say, network access, because an app needing to be online is pretty common — to a secondary screen. Looks like for now those don't show in the app, but you'll still be able to get them in the web browser, and you can view any app's full permissions in the settings menu.

More: Google Play support