Changes are coming to this article
This article will be updated with recently announced changes.
To give users a better experience, we’re introducing new limitations for using the USE_FULL_SCREEN_INTENT permission. For apps targeting Android U (API level 34) and above, we’re changing this permission to a special app access permission. Only apps whose core functionality requires a full screen notification will be granted this permission by default. All other apps will need to request permission from the user. (effective May 31, 2024)
For a more privacy preserving experience for users, we’re introducing the Photo and Video Permissions policy to reduce the number of apps permitted to request broad photo/video permissions (READ_MEDIA_IMAGES and READ_MEDIA_VIDEO). Apps may only access photos and videos for purposes directly related to app functionality. Apps that have a one-time or infrequent need to access these files are requested to use a system picker, such as the Android photo picker. (effective August 31, 2024)
To preview the updated “Permissions and APIs that Access Sensitive Information” article, visit this page.
Requests for permission and APIs that access sensitive information should make sense to users. You may only request permissions and APIs that access sensitive information that are necessary to implement current features or services in your app that are promoted in your Google Play listing. You may not use permissions or APIs that access sensitive information that give access to user or device data for undisclosed, unimplemented, or disallowed features or purposes. Personal or sensitive data accessed through permissions or APIs that access sensitive information may never be sold nor shared for a purpose facilitating sale.
Request permissions and APIs that access sensitive information to access data in context (via incremental requests), so that users understand why your app is requesting the permission. Use the data only for purposes that the user has consented to. If you later wish to use the data for other purposes, you must ask users and make sure they affirmatively agree to the additional uses.
In addition to the above, restricted permissions are permissions that are designated as Dangerous, Special, Signature, or as documented below. These permissions are subject to the following additional requirements and restrictions:
- User or device data accessed through Restricted Permissions is considered as personal and sensitive user data. The requirements of the User Data policy apply.
- Respect users’ decisions if they decline a request for a Restricted Permission, and users may not be manipulated or forced into consenting to any non-critical permission. You must make a reasonable effort to accommodate users who do not grant access to sensitive permissions (for example, allowing a user to manually enter a phone number if they’ve restricted access to Call Logs).
- Use of permissions in violation of Google Play malware policies (including Elevated Privilege Abuse) is expressly prohibited.
Certain Restricted Permissions may be subject to additional requirements as detailed below. The objective of these restrictions is to safeguard user privacy. We may make limited exceptions to the requirements below in very rare cases where apps provide a highly compelling or critical feature and where there is no alternative method available to provide the feature. We evaluate proposed exceptions against the potential privacy or security impacts on users.
SMS and Call Log Permissions
SMS and Call Log Permissions are regarded as personal and sensitive user data subject to the Personal and Sensitive Information policy, and the following restrictions:
Apps lacking default SMS, Phone, or Assistant handler capability may not declare use of the above permissions in the manifest. This includes placeholder text in the manifest. Additionally, apps must be actively registered as the default SMS, Phone, or Assistant handler before prompting users to accept any of the above permissions and must immediately stop using the permission when they’re no longer the default handler. The permitted uses and exceptions are available on this Help Center page.
Apps may only use the permission (and any data derived from the permission) to provide approved core app functionality Core functionality is defined as the main purpose of the app. This may include a set of core features, which must all be prominently documented and promoted in the app’s description. Without the core feature(s), the app is “broken” or rendered unusable. The transfer, sharing, or licensed use of this data must only be for providing core features or services within the app, and its use may not be extended for any other purpose (for example, improving other apps or services, advertising, or marketing purposes). You may not use alternative methods (including other permissions, APIs, or third-party sources) to derive data attributed to Call Log or SMS related permissions.
Apps are allowed to access location using foreground service (when the app only has foreground access for example, "while in use") permission if the use:
Apps designed specifically for children must comply with the Designed for Familiespolicy.
For more information on the policy requirements, please see this help article.
All Files Access Permission
Files and directory attributes on a user’s device are regarded as personal and sensitive user data subject to the Personal and Sensitive Information policy and the following requirements:
Package (App) Visibility Permission
The inventory of installed apps queried from a device are regarded as personal and sensitive user data subject to the Personal and Sensitive Information policy, and the following requirements:
Apps that have a core purpose to launch, search, or interoperate with other apps on the device, may obtain scope-appropriate visibility to other installed apps on the device as outlined below:
App inventory data queried from Play-distributed apps may never be sold nor shared for analytics or ads monetization purposes.
The Accessibility API cannot be used to:
The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording.
The use of the Accessibility API must be documented in the Google Play listing.
Guidelines for IsAccessibilityTool
Apps with a core functionality intended to directly support people with disabilities are eligible to use the IsAccessibilityTool to appropriately publicly designate themselves as an accessibility app.
Apps not eligible for IsAccessibilityTool may not use the flag and must meet prominent disclosure and consent requirements as outlined in the User Data policy as the accessibility related functionality is not obvious to the user. Please refer to the AccessibilityService API help center article for more information.
Apps must use more narrowly scoped APIs and permissions in lieu of the Accessibility API when possible to achieve the desired functionality.
Request Install Packages Permission
The REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES permission allows an application to request the installation of app packages. To use this permission, your app’s core functionality must include:
Permitted functionalities include:
Core functionality is defined as the main purpose of the app. The core functionality, as well as any core features that comprise this core functionality, must all be prominently documented and promoted in the app's description.The REQUEST_INSTALL_PACKAGES permission may not be used to perform self updates, modifications, or the bundling of other APKs in the asset file unless for device management purposes. All updates or installing of packages must abide by Google Play’s Device and Network Abuse policy and must be initiated and driven by the user.
Health Connect by Android Permissions
Data accessed through Health Connect Permissions is regarded as personal and sensitive user data subject to the User Data policy, and the following additional requirements:
Appropriate Access to and Use of Health Connect
Requests to access data through Health Connect must be clear and understandable. Health Connect may only be used in accordance with the applicable policies, terms and conditions, and for approved use cases as set forth in this policy. This means you may only request access to permissions when your application or service meets one of the approved use cases.
Approved use cases for access to Health Connect Permissions are:
Health Connect is a general purpose data storage and sharing platform that allows users to aggregate health and fitness data from various sources on their Android device and share it with third parties at their election. The data may originate from various sources as determined by the users. Developers must assess whether Health Connect is appropriate for their intended use and to investigate and vet the source and quality of any data from Health Connect in connection with any purpose, and, in particular, for research, health, or medical uses.
Upon using Health Connect for an appropriate use, your use of the data accessed through Health Connect must also comply with the below requirements. These requirements apply to the raw data obtained from Health Connect, and data aggregated, de-identified, or derived from the raw data.
All other transfers, uses, or sale of Health Connect data is prohibited, including:
Access to Health Connect may not be used in violation of this policy or other applicable Health Connect terms and conditions or policies, including for the following purposes:
You may only request access to permissions that are critical to implementing your application or service's functionality.
Transparent and Accurate Notice and Control
In addition to the requirements under applicable law, you must also adhere to the following requirements:
Secure Data Handling
You must handle all user data securely. Take reasonable and appropriate steps to protect all applications or systems that make use of Health Connect against unauthorized or unlawful access, use, destruction, loss, alteration, or disclosure.
Recommended security practices include implementing and maintaining an Information Security Management System such as outlined in ISO/IEC 27001 and ensuring your application or web service is robust and free from common security issues as set out by the OWASP Top 10.
Depending on the API being accessed and number of user grants or users, we will require that your application or service undergo a periodic security assessment and obtain a Letter of Assessment from a designated third party if your product transfers data off the user's own device.For more information on requirements for apps connecting to Health Connect, please see this help article.
The VpnService is a base class for applications to extend and build their own VPN solutions. Only apps that use the VpnService and have VPN as their core functionality can create a secure device-level tunnel to a remote server. Exceptions include apps that require a remote server for core functionality such as:
The VpnService cannot be used to:
Apps that use the VpnService must:
Exact Alarm Permission
A new permission, USE_EXACT_ALARM, will be introduced that will grant access to exact alarm functionality in apps starting with Android 13 (API target level 33).
USE_EXACT_ALARM is a restricted permission and apps must only declare this permission if their core functionality supports the need for an exact alarm. Apps that request this restricted permission are subject to review, and those that do not meet the acceptable use case criteria will be disallowed from publishing on Google Play.
Acceptable use cases for using the Exact Alarm Permission
Your app must use the USE_EXACT_ALARM functionality only when your app’s core, user facing functionality requires precisely-timed actions, such as:
If you have a use case for exact alarm functionality that’s not covered above, you should evaluate if using SCHEDULE_EXACT_ALARM as an alternative is an option.For more information on exact alarm functionality, please see this developer guidance.