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Google Play Store to bring back app permissions list

Google Play Store on OnePlus 9
(Image credit: Chris Wedel/Android Central)

Update (July 21, 12:00 pm ET): Permissions list returning to Play Store.

What you need to know

  • The Google Play Store has begun removing the permissions list for apps and is adding a new "Data safety" section.
  • The Data safety section will leave it up to the developer of an app to include as much or as little detail as they choose.
  • This new change will be mandatory for all Google Play Store apps in one week.

Google has done some work on the Play Store that deals with an app's privacy and security. Google has done away with the detailed list of "permissions" for apps and has replaced it with a new "Data safety" section.

Helping people feel more secure when browsing and downloading apps on the Play Store seems to be at the top of Google's mind. The company has removed the "permissions" section, replacing it with a new "Data safety" section. Google, per its Google Play support page (opens in new tab), explains this change as being one where "Developers use the data safety section to share information about their app handles your data." While those using the web version of the store can see the Data safety portion easily, those on mobile will have to expand the "About this app" section and scroll down to find it.

Google explains what data collection and data sharing will mean when a developer provides that information. For data collection, a developer can go into detail about the different types of data the app may collect. The developer will then have the option to explain how they would use the data and whether or not the data collection is optional. Google does make it clear that, in some cases, the developer does "not need to disclose data as 'collected' even if the data technically leaves your device."

For data sharing, developers are given the chance to give details on if their app will share your data with a third party. They are even able to give information on what sort of data would be shared with a third party. Google does, once again, say "developers do not need to disclose data as 'shared' even if it's technically transferred to another party."

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The Google Play Store's new Data safety section started rolling out (opens in new tab) in late April. Google had informed developers that the deadline for including this section on their app's page is July 20th. Senior Technical Editor for Esper Mishaal Rahman tweeted (opens in new tab) about this new change that will go into mandatory effect in one week for all apps on the Google Play Store.

One of the benefits that he shared about this new change is how detailed the Data safety section can be as opposed to the old permissions list. Developers will now be able to clearly state everything the app may be doing without leaving people confused with the technical jargon.

A disadvantage that Mishaal Rahman goes into is that developers have a choice to include as much or as little information as they'd like about their app. Google has done some work with the informational side of an app as the mobile version of the store has begun showing the required Android version (opens in new tab) for compatibility. The change from the old permissions list to the new Data safety section looks to be another attempt at providing users with more information about the apps on their phones.

Update

After removing the app permissions section from the Play Store roughly a week ago, Google has decided to bring it back.

The company explained its reversal on Twitter:

"Privacy and transparency are core values in the Android community. We heard your feedback that you find the app permissions section in Google Play useful, and we've decided to reinstate it. The app permissions section will be back shortly."

The company further explains how the new Data safety section is meant to provide a simplified view of the data apps collect and share but notes that the permissions section makes information "easily viewable for users to understand an app's ability to access specific restricted data & actions too."

As of now, it doesn't appear as though the permissions section is back just yet, but it will likely be a matter of time before it appears on Play Store app entries.

Nickolas Diaz