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Google won’t allow apps to access installed app inventory on Android

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Google has made some changes to its developer program policies that will restrict the use of high-risk or sensitive permissions, including any app’s access to the list of apps installed on Android devices. In short, unless it is necessary to perform its core user-oriented functions, no application will be allowed to access the list of installed applications on the Android device. Google stated that if a developer’s application does not meet the requirements for acceptable use, they must remove it from the application list to comply with the new policy.

As per a post by Google on its Play Console Help support page, the changes in the Developer Program Policy will come into effect on May 5. The company says that this is done because Google Play regards “the device inventory of installed apps queried from a user’s device as personal and sensitive information.”

This can be seen as another step towards strengthening user privacy protection measures. For example, this mandatory change will make it more difficult for apps to monitor apps installed on the phone. Access to the application manifest in the Android device can be used for targeted advertising or malicious purposes.

As mentioned earlier, if a developer’s application does not meet the requirements for acceptable use of application inventory, it must be removed from the application list. If apps meet the policy requirements for acceptable use of app inventory, they are required to declare high-risk permissions using the declaration form in the Play Console.

If apps fail to meet policy requirements or developers do not submit a Declaration Form, the app may be removed from Google Play. The declaration must be revised and updated with accurate information in case there are changes in order to comply with the policy changes. It should be noted that inventory access permission only takes effect when an app targets Android API level 30 or later on devices running Android 11 or later.

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