Taking into account the recent data breaches and increasing Cyber crimes, Google raises its bar to gain trust of its users by protecting their privacy. Google is cracking the whip on Android apps that track your location in the background. The new changes were announced in a blog post addressed to Android developers earlier this week stating “Today, we’re previewing Android and Google Play policy changes that will impact how developers access location in the background”.
How will the process work?
Google explained that this review process will look at “whether an app’s core functionality actually justifies this background location access”. For example, a social networking app that has users opt in to continuously share their location with friends is justified. On the other hand, it would be harder to justify why a store locator app needs background location access. For an app like that location access while it is used works just fine. Google added that informing the user will also help in the app’s chances of getting approved.
Google mentioned in the post that starting August 3, all new Google Play apps that as for background access will need to pass a review. This will expand to all existing apps by November 2nd, until which app makers have to update their apps and remove any non-compliant code that gobbles up location data without using it, and especially location data while the app is not in use. If the developers fail to do so, they will be removed from Google Play.
All about the New Feature for Android users
Location tracking is an essential feature for many apps but it can be rather invasive when apps indiscriminately ask for location access. When it comes to background location tracking, that’s worse because you might be completely unaware of which apps are tracking you at any moment in time.
The new review process will “force” apps to justify why they need the background location tracking feature and also have them limit tracking if they fail to justify.
Compared to Apple’s iOS 13, where the user can grant sensitive permissions on a one-time basis, Android 11 announced similar changes in its “wider crackdown”n release relating to Location tracking. When users select ‘One time’ permission option for Location access on an application, apps can only access the data until the user moves away from the app, and they must then request permission again for the next access. Although iOS has reminders to tell users that apps are tracking location in the background, these reminders and permissions do not apply to some of Apple’s own apps like Find My iPhone. On the contrary, Google has pointed out that this new policy will apply to its own apps as well.
As a part of a change for Android users, the blog also shares how the vast majority of developers understood user security concerns and the information being fallen into the wrong hands. The developers are now willing to change their location usage.
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