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How to take advantage of the new App Permissions in Marshmallow

Android Permissions
Android Permissions (Image credit: Android Central)

Marshmallow brought a number of new shifts for Android users, but one of the biggest applause lines was given to the overhaul of app permissions. Before Marshmallow, you had only one way to deny an app a permission it asked for: don't install it. In Marshmallow, you can install an app and allow or deny permissions on a per-app basis. This means that if you don't think this game deserves access to your contacts list, you can deny it access to the contacts list.

And changing an app's approved permissions is really easy, but there is a small hurdle you may have to overcome.

GEt used to these pop ups. You're gonna see a fair few of them.

Starting in Marshmallow, apps will ask for permissions as they go, meaning that when you try to place a voice call in Hangouts, it'll ask you for microphone permissions. When you ask to save or move a file, the app will ask you for Storage permissions. And so on. You can tap Allow, or you can tap Deny. Most users will likely hit Allow because the app is asking for a permission that is hopefully directly related to the action they are trying to accomplish.

Phonograph is a beautifully simple music app. One permission and done.

However, mis-taps happen. Your phone slips, you were about to tap something in that area when the pop-up appeared in the same spot, things happen. If you didn't mean to make that choice, or change your mind about an app permission, here's where you can come to fix it. In Settings, we go to Applications. Select your app from the list, tap App Permissions, and you can turn on or off the permission in question.

Lots of apps want your microphone. Even more apps want your contacts.

If you're wanting to monitor apps across the board, you're in luck. There's a settings menu for that, too. Instead of tapping a single app in the Application list, we'll tap the menu button in the top corner and select Configure Apps and then App Permissions. You can now examine which apps have access to individual permissions. Decide you don't want any app to use your microphone? Well, tap Microphone and turn them all off.

This warning is absolutely needed, but in most cases nothing should break. Emphasis on should.

Now, most developers are being highly encouraged to adopt the new permissions systems, but some apps are old or abandoned or haven't implemented it quite yet. When you try to turn off permissions in these apps, you get this warning. Older apps can indeed break when denied permissions that they need for certain functions, which is again why Google is encouraging devs to use them.

Now, keep in mind that denying apps permissions can indeed limit their functionality. If you turn off microphone access to your keyboard, don't be surprised when voice typing doesn't work. But if you didn't think that icon pack needed access to your text messages, you can shut that down.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

42 Comments
  • This feature is the reason I'm looking forward to Marshmallow. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Oh yes, I just cannot wait for the flood of idiots complaining about something not working because they denied a permission. I agree that some apps ask for permissions unnecessarily but that is just lazy developing. Giving the keys to the kingdom to the population as a whole is stupid. __________________________________________________________________________________-_________________________-____________________
  • Forums going to be lit Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Fireplace gonna be lit When we die, we go bye-bye. - Sal Vulcano
  • That is true. But overall the experience will be better. You don't see people on iOS complaining about permissions. They've had this for a long time which is great. Posted via the Android Central App
  • They have been on BlackBerry 10 since 2013. Excellent feature Android has finally adopted. Now if Samsung would kindly update my Tab Pro tablets. They keep saying they will but it is yet to be seen. Posted via Android Central App
  • They've abandoned the tab pro line. No worries though, there's plenty of decent ROM's for both the WiFi and LTE variants on XDA if you wanna root and flash one. Your tablet will also run 3 times better afterwards (assuming its a reputable ROM). I'm running Pacman 5.1.1 on my tab S and the hardware finally performs the way its capable of, along with much less jank/studder
  • And if you root, you can use XPrivacy which gives far far far better permissions control including take data for permissions that would otherwise cause crashes when denied.
  • Hahahahahaha yup same here. I'm not concerned about app permissions because I only download and install trusted apps. Dam It Feels Good To Be A Google Gangster
  • I've run into some permission weirdness, but I'm not sure if my issue is a permission mishap or an adoptable storage bug. But yes, I anticipate a lot of complaining.
  • Haha. Why the Hell does my messaging app want to modify my contacts....??? Only I should modify my contacts. If I'm looking for george, I don't want the app to change it to Susan without me knowing.....hell no you can't modify my contacts!!!
    One hour later (in my best spongebob narrator voice)....why the hell can't I modify my contacts? ╭∩╮(◣_◢)╭∩╮
  • These days, George probably already changed to Susan with or without your permission.
  • Lol Posted from my Nexus 6/Nexus 7 2013/Surface Pro 3
  • Nice Posted via Nexus 6 running on any data plan I want
  • I think this is a brilliant way to do app permissions. Before, users would give (as an example) a cloud photo app a low review because it asked for shared file access and they didn't understand that this was the minimum and necessary permission an app needs to be able to access photos you want to upload. At least now, they will know WHY an app is requesting a permission. It will also force devs to reduce permissions they ask for, since if a note-taking app (for example) is running in the background and you get a popup asking you to give it permission to access your mic and Contacts, then you're gonna be like "wtf" and that dev will get a reputation as a Trojan malware writer. They don't want to be perceived like that. Posted via the Android Central App
  • 1. I can't see developers liking this and stick to iOS. 2. They will have to specify this app won't work without this permission, but will actually work without this permission and we were kidding you all along. (oh please leave the front camera on anyway, I like your bathroom)
    Good thing, bad thing - I don't know. 3. You don't have my permission to read this. Now FORGET the last 30 seconds.
  • Ios has permissions control too lol Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yes I see that now. What you have to bear in mind is I know nothing further than my nose, and reserve the right to demonstrate this at every opportunity.
  • It's all good. It's going to take a while for people to get used to it. Overall it's a good thing. Better control over what your apps do and show. Posted via the Android Central App
  • Yeah, this reminds me of the whole amin privilege debacle for MS Windows when everyone complained about getting slammed with dialogue box after box of requests for amin privileges. Google should have made an easy option to allow all permissions for the many who don't want to deal with this. Not to mention, most people I know have no idea what permissions are, this new stream of information is just going to make them feel like they're too vulnerable to some apps excessive permissions. Also, I wonder if it will work with system apps or carrier bloatware. Posted via the Android Central App on the Sony Xperia Z3 Compact
  • it works will all apps, including system and carrier garbage.
  • Even better. System apps. How long before someone says they cannot see their contacts because they disallowed the phone exchange permissions? Two minutes? Three? This is just an example. __________________________________________________________________________________-_________________________-____________________
  • Then that's their fault. If some people can't use common sense when modding permissions then they deserve to have device jacked up.
  • Which cromebook this in picture ?? Posted via the Android Central App
  • it's a Dell Chromebook 11 (CRM3120-1667BLK), which I grabbed for 140 during Prime Day a few months ago. I've been letting my mother use it while I keep using the ThinkPad Yoga Chromebook 11e.
  • Thanks (y) Posted via the Android Central App
  • Is that an iPhone with onscreen buttons?
    Hehe When we die, we go bye-bye. - Sal Vulcano
  • Not sure why everyone is complaining about this. IPhone has done it this way from the beginning, and it's never been an issue. I adored that feature on my iPhone and it's rather pathetic it's taken Google this long to implement it. And I don't think there'll be a big issue, because most people will just tap allow anyway. Posted via the Android Central App
  • +1000 Posted via the Android Central App
  • Because 90% of iOS users accept the permissions without reading them anyway. That's why there are limited issues. Most people don't care. Posted via the Android Central App
  • These are useful tips for Android 6.Unless the Marshmallow has been applied to your device.
  • "I want my phone to pop up a dialog asking for permission to do what I'm trying to get the app to do..." Said no one, ever.
  • Well, see the thing is what if the app is trying to do something that you don't know about? For example, you are filling out your profile and it attempts to access your contacts to spam them with invites. It would have to ask for permission to do so. You would see it asking for permission, you would notice the point at which it is asking, and decide what you want to do from there. This reminds of of the LinkedIn app which used to trick people into doing this. This functionality would make it easier for non-technical experts to make the right decisions.
  • This actually makes it easier for non-technical people to screw up. All Google has to do is provide the means to edit the permissions for an app (as described in this article if you accidentally make the wrong decision). That way nerds who know what they're doing can go in and disable the permissions they want to disable. And nobody has to deal with pop-up questions that 90% or more of phone users won't understand.
  • "ThisApp would like to access your camera." Do you really think that 90% of users won't understand what that means? It's only asking once, I don't think this is as big a deal as you are making it out to be. We should be encouraging non-technical users to make better decisions around security. Making this easier for them is good for the connected world in general. Most of these users will have no problem granting access to a long list of permissions at time of install, but presenting them in a fashion with more context like this will allow them to understand what is happening. I imagine Google put some research into this from a user experience perspective before deploying. Or one would hope. :)
  • This is excellent. Thanks for the tip on globally seeing which permissions are granted to apps across the board - that was new for me. It's amazing how many apps had access to my camera, mic, and contacts that had absolutely no reason to do so. I went in and locked down control on a big group of pre-installed applications, noticing the warning that this may break some of the older apps. I'll see what happens and make decisions as to whether or not to uninstall the offending apps until they conform with the new standard. Thanks, AC!
  • I'd really like to try all the features of Marshmallow, but my Nexus (2013) and Nexus 6 have yet to receive the update after almost 4 weeks.
  • This is perhaps the best feature of Android M Posted via the Android Central App
  • I'm not so sure...
  • I don't get why Bluetooth is not one of the permissions.
  • This is LONG overdue!
  • Been doing this for more than a year on all my digital devices using App Ops. Yes, requires rooting. Posted via the Android Central App