Google has made a number of changes to its developer policy for app distribution on the Play Store. The most notable of these changes is that the company has limited developers’ access to the applications that are installed on users’ smartphones.
As part of Google’s ongoing efforts to reduce the usage of high-risk or sensitive permissions, the company has restricted the access to QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES request, which, according to the company, enables developers to see the list of installed apps on the device.
As a result, beginning May 5th, 2021, developers will have to provide a compelling justification for Google to grant them access to such information.
These updates, according to Google, refer to all apps targeting Android API level 30 or later on devices running Android 11 or later. The new policy was expected to be implemented sooner, but due to the pandemic, it was postponed.
Developers now have to ask for and will be able to access confidential information only when their apps’ core user-facing functionality or intent necessitates wide visibility into installed apps on the user’s device, according to the new policy. “If your app does not meet the requirements for acceptable use below, you must remove it from your app’s manifest in order to comply with Play policy”, the company explained.
Apps that don’t have a valid reason to seek the permission can be withdrawn from the Google Play Store. All developers who want to secure the permission in their apps must fill out a declaration form explaining why they need it.