Google’s next Android OS version has created a lot of hype and has become the next big thing that everybody is looking forward to. In all probabilities, Google will reveal its new OS, Android M, at the upcoming I/O developers conference which has been scheduled for 28th – 29th May. But there may be something more in store for the world at the expected unveiling.
According to Bloomberg, “Google Inc. is planning to give its mobile users more control over what information applications can access, people familiar with the matter said.” This is what users have been wanting since a very long time. Is this a good idea? That remains a hot topic for debate as there are those who are opposing the handing over of control over app permissions.
App Permissions Available for Modifications (Source: NDTV)
As far as the control over app permissions is concerned, giving users more control over the permissions would allow them to decide the extent of information access for each app. For an informed user, this feature would prove to be beneficial. But for those who do not fully understand the implications, it could turn out to be more of a problem.
Apps need to access information such as photos, contacts or location for delivering an awesome user experience. By controlling what apps can penetrate more into the content and which can’t, it would be possible to prevent the loss of sensitive data. When this change comes out, it would bring Android closer to iOS which already allows user to edit the permissions for the apps.
(Source: Droid Life)
As of now, Android apps can only be downloaded if the user accepts all the permissions that the app requires. There is no option of selective permissions. So refusing to accept the permissions will lead to the cancellation of the download. You can always check this out at the Play Store where a list of permissions are provided (if present) for the app and you only have the option of accepting it or cancelling the download. However, Cyanogen and Xiaomi’s MIUI 6 users can customize the permissions as this option is currently available for them.
The demand for privacy has always existed for Android devices, but till now Google had not made any progress on this front. In fact, it has lost 3% share in Europe’s five largest countries, leading to a reduced share of 69% in the first quarter according to Kantar Worldpanel ComTech. iOS seems to be on a rise with an increase in share from 18.6% to 20.3%. This is a clear depiction of the significance of the demand for privacy as expressed by users. Google has not provided any confirmation on this matter as of now, but in keeping with the rising demands, giving more control to the users will surely help the company get back its market share.
Will the provision of control over permissions work out well for the average user? Probably not. In my opinion, the demand for privacy control stems from the users’ paranoia and giving complete control to the user is not a good idea. The reason behind the creation of a set of predefined permissions for an app is that without such permissions, the app would not be able to serve its purpose. An average user would not be able to understand the possible implication of permitting a particular aspect and / or restricting access to some.
Moreover, exercising control over permissions doesn’t guarantee that the app won’t mess with your information. It is possible that the app is able to send packets of data to a server which can be sold off to the highest bidder. The possibilities are there and the repercussions are real. If you were to analyse the true meaning of “privacy”, then denying apps like Facebook Messenger permission to use the camera on your device doesn’t justify the objectives of maintaining “privacy”. The best solution in this case would be to manage the permission system carefully such that users do not line up outside service centers to get their devices fixed.
What do you think? Should Google allow users to select the permissions for the apps? Share your opinion in the discussion thread below.
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