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Why do some Android apps need so many permissions?

I have a question about Android app permissions. Lately I’ve noticed a lot
of apps want strange permissions. Lookout wants to be able to take photos at
any time without my permission. Others want to make phone calls or read my
contact list. I realize a bar code reader needs to control my camera but am I
being right in being concerned with some of these permission requests?

In this excerpt from
Answercast #99
I take a look at smartphone applications that ask for a lot
of permissions. It would be wise to be cautious.

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Android app permissions

In my opinion, yes. It really depends on which apps you’re installing as to
what permissions they actually need.

That’s probably the most important thing you can do. Before installing an
app, understand what it’s supposed to do. If you’ve got an application that has
absolutely no documented reason where it might want to use the camera, giving
it permission to use the camera clearly doesn’t make sense.

Malicious applications

Now it doesn’t necessarily mean that the application is malicious. But that
would be one sign of an application that’s trying to do more than is
advertised.

So, the best thing I can suggest you do is always install what I would
consider to be highly rated, very reputable applications. Take a few minutes to
actually understand what the application is attempting to do for you before you
give it permissions to do just about everything.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

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4 comments on “Why do some Android apps need so many permissions?”

  1. Lookout is an Android security program which uses GPS and IP to locate your phone, and it takes a photo of an unauthorized person attempting to use your phone. Here’s what it says on their website “Get an email with the picture and location of anyone who enters an incorrect password three times into your Android lock screen.”

    It pays to go the the website of the app to see what it does, and why it might need permission to do such and such.

    Reply
  2. Yeah, don’t give apps permissions without understanding what’s involved. If an app asks for permission to do something outside it’s intended use, ask yourself, “Why?” And understand exactly what it’s asking for.

    Reply
  3. OK…we understand the point BUT then what can one do about it? I uninstalled 2 apps. because they wanted permission to use the camera without me knowing about it (Battery Reborn was one – why the hell does a battery widget need a camera?)

    Now I see more and more apps. wanted camera access – latest – CHROME! The only choice I have is to NOT UPDATE it at all! I cannot pick permissions to DENY though I should have the choice.

    So WHAT TO DO with the apps. you want to keep and use but do not want to allow access to mic. and camera without explaining WHY it needs it?

    Thanks.

    As I understand it there is nothing you can do, other than perhaps complain to the vendor. Android doesn’t currently support selective permissions – it’s all or nothing.

    Leo
    04-Apr-2013

    Reply

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