Play Store limits apps from visibility into other installed apps

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Google Play Store Limit Access

Some changes are being made around Google Play Store. Each new feature and improvement is meant for the benefit of every developer and user. New policy updates have just been announced by Google. There are for mobile apps officially distributed through the Google Play Store. One change that will bring the biggest impact is for Android 11 apps. Developers will no longer see what Android apps are installed on a device. This is in part of Google’s may efforts to restrict the usage of high risk or sensitive permissions.

The QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission will be limited. Not all apps can use it now. This permission “gives visibility into the inventory of installed apps on a given device”.

This means the rule will apply on mobile apps that use API 30+ for devices on Android 11 or later. It’s not really a new policy but implementation has been delayed on the Google Play Store because of the pandemic. The policy will be in effect beginning May 5, 2021.

Here’s what’s written on the Play Console Help:

“Play regards the device inventory of installed apps queried from a user’s device as personal and sensitive information, and use of the permission is only permitted when your app’s core user facing functionality or purpose, requires broad visibility into installed apps on the user’s device.”

What apps then can still use the permission? Those apps used as browsers, antivirus, device search, and file managers. Google will then be asking the developers to explain and “justify why a less intrusive method of app visibility will not sufficiently enable your app’s policy compliant user facing core functionality”.

As a developer, you need to give a sufficient reason why you need visibility to the inventory of the installed apps. It should be “directly related to the core purpose or core functionality that users access within your app.”

Google will still offer temporary exceptions, mainly, to banking and digital wallet apps. One reason is for them to get visibility into the apps for security reasons.

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