Review app permissions

Before you download an app on Google Play, you may need to give the app permission to access specific capabilities or information (known as permissions groups) on your device. Google Play shows you which types of information or capabilities an app will be able to access.

Simplified permissions on Google Play

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.

In addition to disclosing permissions groups on the Google Play Store Play Store, apps on Google Play must also follow Google Play's policies. Google removes apps that are found to violate these policies. Google also has systems that analyze new apps, apps already on Google Play, and developer accounts in order to protect users against potentially harmful elements.

Google Play prioritizes the permissions that are most important for you to make an informed decision, displaying them front and center. Using the Play Store's app review and scanning systems, we are able to evaluate some of the permission requests that were previously displayed in the primary permissions screen, flagging and removing apps with potentially harmful code. As a result, some of the permissions covered by those checks are no longer displayed in the install experience.

You can always see the full list of permissions an app can access on your device. For example, you can check to see whether an app can access the Internet to understand if it could impact your mobile data usage.

Note: These days, apps typically access the Internet, so network communication permissions including the “full Internet access” permission have been moved out of the primary permissions screen. Google Play's app review systems already check all apps for abuse of these access permissions. The remaining network access permissions group shown in the install flow focuses on a specific access type (Wi-Fi connection information) that is likely to be of most concern to you. You can still review the full range of network access permissions if you are interested.

Google continues to actively look for new ways to improve how permissions work for users.

Permissions groups

Permissions groups are designed to show what an app will be able to access on your device. With permissions groups, you can quickly see what capabilities or information an app may use before downloading it. Also, you can review individual permissions at any time using the Google Play Store Play Store app.

It's a good idea to review permissions groups before downloading an app. Once you've allowed an app to access a permissions group, the app may use any of the individual permissions that are part of that group. You won't need to manually approve individual permissions updates that belong to a permissions group you've already accepted.

Review individual permissions

To review individual permissions and groups used by the latest version of an app available on the Play Store:

  1. Open the Google Play Store Play Store app.
  2. Go to an app's detail page.
  3. Scroll down to "Additional Information."
  4. Select View details.

After you've installed an app, you can review the permissions it can use on your Settings menu.

  1. Open your main Settings menu.
  2. Select Apps or Application Manager.
  3. Select an app.
  4. Scroll down to "Permissions."

Here's a list of the permissions groups that an app might use on your device. Select one of the groups to learn more about what is included in that permissions group.

Users who wish to have full control over new individual permissions being added to an app can review individual permissions for an app at any time, or may consider turning off auto-updates for one or more apps. Any permissions that are not part of a permissions group, including those that are not shown in the main permissions screen, will be shown in the "Other" group.

Note: Over time, the Android operating system may introduce new capabilities and features. Permissions groups may change as new capabilities are added to the Android operating system.

In-app purchases

An app can ask you to make purchases inside the app.

Device & app history

An app can use one or more of the following:

  • Read sensitive log data
  • Retrieve system internal state
  • Read your web bookmarks and history
  • Retrieve running apps
Cellular data settings

An app can use settings that control your mobile data connection and potentially the data you receive.

Identity

An app can use your account and/or profile information on your device.

Identity access may include the ability to:

  • Find accounts on the device
  • Read your own contact card (example: name and contact information)
  • Modify your own contact card
  • Add or remove accounts
Contacts

An app can use your device's contacts, which may include the ability to read and modify your contacts.

Calendar

An app can use your device's calendar information, which may include the ability to:

  • Read calendar events plus confidential information
  • Add or modify calendar events and send email to guests without owners' knowledge
Location

An app can use your device's location.

Location access may include:

  • Approximate location (network-based)
  • Precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • Access extra location provider commands
  • GPS access
SMS

An app can use your device's text messaging (SMS) and/or multimedia media messaging service (MMS). This group may include the ability to use text, picture, or video messages.

Note: Depending on your plan, you may be charged by your carrier for text or multimedia messages. SMS access may include the ability to:

  • Receive text messages (SMS)
  • Read your text messages (SMS or MMS)
  • Receive text messages (MMS, like a picture or video message)
  • Edit your text messages (SMS or MMS)
  • Send SMS messages; this may cost you money
  • Receive text messages (WAP)
Phone

An app can use your phone and/or its call history.

Note: Depending on your plan, you may be charged by your carrier for phone calls.

Phone access may include the ability to:

  • Directly call phone numbers; this may cost you money
  • Write call log (example: call history)
  • Read call log
  • Reroute outgoing calls
  • Modify phone state
  • Make calls without your intervention
Photos/Media/Files

An app can use files or data stored on your device.

Photos/Media/Files access may include the ability to:

  • Read the contents of your USB storage (example: SD card)
  • Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Format external storage
  • Mount or unmount external storage
Camera

An app can use your device's camera.

Camera access may include the ability to:

  • Take pictures and videos
  • Record video
Microphone

An app can use your device's microphone.

Microphone access may include the ability to record audio.

Wi-Fi connection information

An app can access your device's Wi-Fi connection information, like if Wi-Fi is turned on and the name(s) of connected devices.

Wi-Fi connection information access may include the ability to:

  • View Wi-Fi connections
Bluetooth connection information

An app can control Bluetooth on your device, which includes broadcasting to or getting information about nearby Bluetooth devices.

Wearable sensors/activity data

Allows the app to access data from wearable sensors, such as heart rate monitors. Can receive periodic updates on physical activity levels.

Device ID & call information

An app can access your device ID(s), phone number, whether you're on the phone, and the number connected by a call.

Device ID & call information may include the ability to:

  • Read phone status and identity
Other

An app can use custom settings provided by your device manufacturer or application-specific permissions.

Note: If an app adds a permission that is in the "Other" group, you'll always be asked to review the change before downloading an update.

Other access may include the ability to:

  • Read your social stream (on some social networks
  • Write to your social stream (on some social networks)
  • Access subscribed feeds

When you review individual permissions, all permissions, including those not displayed in the permissions screen, will be shown in the "Other" group.

App Updates

When an app updates, it may need to use additional capabilities or information controlled by permissions.

If you have automatic updates enabled, you won't need to review or accept these permissions as long as they are included in a permissions group you already accepted for that app.

If the app needs access to an additional permissions group, you'll be asked to accept the update, even if you've set an app to update automatically.

If you prefer to review each update manually, you can change your update settings.

Turn off auto-updates for specific apps

If you want to manually update an app, you can turn off auto-updates using the Play Store app. Here's how:

  1. Open the Play Store app Google Play Store.
  2. Touch the Menu icon Google Play Store Menu Icon > My Apps.
  3. Select an app.
  4. Touch Menu Menu > If it's not already, uncheck the box next to "Auto-update."

Shana is a Google Play expert and author of this help page. Help her improve this article by leaving feedback below.

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