Google limits which apps can see everything else you’ve installed

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Google will soon be more selective about which apps in the Play Store all other apps you have installed (via XDA Developers As Ars Technica points out that your list of installed apps, harmless as it may seem, can communicate developer personal traits such as dating preferences and political preferences. So starting May 5, 2021, developers will have to give a very good reason why Google should give you access to such information.

Android 11 apps currently requesting the “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” permission can see the full list of apps that you have stored on your device. But Google has recently been Developer Program Policies and now considers that information as “personal and sensitive user data, ”Limit which apps can use it.

Once the change takes effect in May, apps will only be able to use the permission if their “core functionality or purpose for the user, requires broad visibility in installed apps on the user’s device”. Examples of apps that may continue to use this permission include file managers, browsers, and antivirus apps that need the data “for awareness or interoperability purposes.” Banking apps, digital wallet apps and any other app that uses ‘financial transaction functions’ will be given a pass ‘for security purposes’.

Apps that do not have a legitimate use case for the permission risk being removed from the Google Play Store. All developers who want to keep the permission in their apps must complete it a declaration form justify their use of it.

Just in case you’re concerned developers might be able to still abuse the consent, Google’s documentation clearly indicates that it will be difficult for offensive apps, whether they are new to the Play Store or just updates to existing apps. Google may suspend apps and possibly terminate developer accounts.