Google Privacy Feature to Impact ‘Billions’ of Android Devices

Google has confirmed that an important privacy feature, which was recently added to Android 11 and higher, will be available for older models as well.

Google software engineers Peter Visontay & Bessie Jiang described the changes in a blog posting. They explained that the auto-reset feature for app permissions would be available on all Android 6.0 and later devices starting in December.

This change could impact as many as 2 billion Android devices. Only 25% of the 3 billion Android devices are running Android 11 or higher, and a very small number run Android 6 or older.

The blog post states that Android 11 introduced the permission auto-reset feature. This feature protects user privacy by automatically resetting any app’s runtime permission.

Specific permissions can be slightly concerning from a security standpoint, especially if they have been granted previously and then forgotten.

There will be some apps that are not subject to the rules. This includes device admin apps for the enterprise environment and apps that run in the background like child safety apps.

Google also informed the Register that it intentionally left the description for a dormant application vague to stop people trying to trick the system. Being “dormant” for “a few months” can be interpreted as several things.

Google stated that android 12 developers can still check and reset the default permission reset time on their devices in milliseconds.

Hibernation is a Google option for those how would like to take the privacy issue a step further. It allows you to remove permissions and also shuts down the app. It also reclaims storage and memory.

Hibernated apps cannot send notifications to users or run in the background.

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