Google has put forth several policy updates for the apps in its Play Store. The most important update is that it will stop most developers from seeing what Android apps are installed on a device.
The QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission allows seeing which the apps that are installed on the device are. One of the new security and privacy policies is that the company will limit the apps that can see what apps are installed in a device. This update is for those devices targeting API 30+ on devices running Android 11 and above. This demand was delayed due to COVID-19.
On this policy taking effect, apps can only use the permission if “core user-facing functionality or purpose, requires broad visibility into installed apps on the user’s device.” The allowed apps include file managers, antivirus apps, and banking apps, and also other apps related to financial transactions.
This update will go live on May 5, 2021. All apps that have been submitted to the Google Play Store as of November 2021 must aim for Android 11 or higher. This policy has been launched for the safety of the users. This policy aims at protecting users from any kind of harmful advertising or any suspicious or risky activity that can happen when an external object can see what apps are installed on a device. There was another developer policy that let a user stop applications such as Facebook to interact with apps installed on their mobile device.
Though this might not look like something very major that whether other apps can see what apps are installed on a device, but this can tell a lot about the user. Take for instance viewing the apps on a device can let us about dating preferences, political affiliations, financial information, and more about a person.
Apart from all this, Google has already for some time started taking signed declaration forms for apps that need a device’s SMS or Call log permissions before they go live on Google Play. Now, this new policy takes privacy a step further.