Mobile phones are popular devices that can be very handy and assist us in several ways. While not an essential commodity, having even a simple one can significantly alleviate many problems and make activities easier. As we all know, different applications with different specializations are available to perform a variety of tasks. Whether for entertainment, communication, file storage, work or other actions, smartphones can be used efficiently. And the best part is its portability. However, an often overlooked part of an app is the app permissions.
App permissions —just like terms and services of software— are often disregarded and skipped by most people to speed up their installation process. This is either because of the verbosity of the permissions or the fact that most people don’t understand why the app is asking for those permissions. Apps will need your authorization to perform certain actions like access to the camera, microphone, contacts, stored files, internet connection, and so on.
When you install an app, you will be provided with the list of permissions it needs to perform its job. For example, if you are using the Facebook app, you have already granted access to an internet connection. If you wish to take a photo and upload it through the app, it will prompt you with a message that goes somewhat like, “Allow Facebook to access your camera to take photos and record videos?” followed by ‘Allow’ and ‘Deny’ options. If you choose ‘Allow’, you authorize Facebook to open your device camera and you can start taking pictures. However, if you choose ‘Deny’, you will be unable to take any photos as the app does not have the authorization to access the open.
Needless to say, for an app to be fully functional, it needs you to give them the necessary authorization. However, some apps ask for permissions that don’t really need to carry out their intended purpose. For instance, if you try to install a third-party file browser app from unknown or untrusted sources, you might see it asking for permission to access the camera or microphone. This raises the question, why does a file browser app need to access a camera or microphone, shouldn’t access to storage and modify files be enough? Which would be entirely true.
If an app asks for permissions, it does not need to do its job; consider it a red flag and find another alternative. There are major security concerns regarding these kinds of apps and even more so if obtained from untrusted sources. While trusted sources like Google Play Store have safeguards to scan nefarious apps, it isn’t entirely safe. The best way around app permissions is to follow the general rule of thumb to avoid suspicious apps entirely. However, that can’t be practical for all cases, so that you can grant temporary permissions instead.
Temporary permissions allow users to grant a one-time temporary authorization to an app to access the things it needs to perform. Once the app is closed, the permissions are disabled and will the app will ask for permission again the next time it is opened. This feature is available only for Android version 11 and above. Here’s how to grant temporary permissions to an app.
For a new app:
1. Launching an app for the first time will prompt you with a message asking for permission. Choose ‘Only this time’ to grant the one-time permission
For existing apps:
1. Open the Settings app, click on ‘Apps & Notifications’, then click on ‘See All Apps’. This will show a list of all apps on your device.
2. Find the app you wish to change permission settings on and click on it. Then, choose ‘Permissions’. This will show you the list of permissions the app needs.
3. Choose the permission you wish to change. This will show you three different options. Here, toggle the ‘Ask every time’ option.
For devices running Android versions below 11, you can install a third-party app like Bouncer. Bouncer allows you to edit permissions for an app just like Android version 11’s built-in feature. To get started, download the app and open it. Then, follow the on-screen instructions that will inform you on how to use the app.