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Tips to View and Manage app permissions

Android requires that apps let you know what kind of permissions they’re asking to authorize whenever you install one from the Google Play Store. Some may pay close attention to these while others just glance over them on their way to hitting the “Install” button. For those of you that know what the app permissions mean and how they affect your device, you’re already one step ahead of the game on avoiding malicious software.

There are, however, several problems inherent in this method: as stated above, some users don’t even read the app permissions or know what they entail when they install an app. As well, permissions cannot be picked as to which ones you’d like to have enabled; they’re an all-or-nothing type deal. Don’t like the permissions the app is asking for? Sorry, you can’t use that app.  As well, the presentation of the app permissions isn’t exactly laid out in the best way. All permissions appear to be equally important, whether it be accessing the system time or date or being able to gather information from your contact list.

Tips to View and Manage app permissions

See App Permissions after installation

Before installing an app, the list of permissions is visible and while they might be to your liking, you may install the app just to see what it’s all about. After installation, you might find yourself second-guessing what exactly a certain app is accessing and want to check it yourself. You can do it the following way:
  • Head to Settings > Apps > Downloaded to see a list of applications installed on the device.
  • Selecting an app will display details about it. The permissions will be listed by scrolling down to the bottom.
  • If you click on each of the permissions, a small summary of what exactly they mean/do will pop up.

Manage Permissions

It’s all fine and dandy to be able to view what permissions an app has, but what if we want to change them? With some “Permission Apps” you can at least provide some kind of control into what kind of permissions an app can have and what you deem “unnecessary”. Just be aware: playing around these might cause apps to go wonky or stop working all together: a SMS app will of course require access rights to read contacts and send messages to function properly.


With aSpotCat, you can see a quick and compiled list of all your apps listed by the permissions that they access and also provide a good identification of what the permission actually does and how it affects your device.  While you cannot modify or change any of the permissions, it’s a great tool for getting the nitty gritty information of what apps are doing and what exactly that means for your device. aSpotCat is available for free with ads or for $2.50 for the premium version.

Advanced Permission Manager

The Advanced Permission Manager does one step further: in addition to showing you what permissions an app is accessing, it also gives you a chance to modify or even remove certain permissions without even requiring root privileges. This does come with some limitations as not all permissions can be modified while using Advanced Permission Manager, but it does provide a quick and easy alternative to those who haven’t rooted their phone.

F-Secure App Permissions

This app offers a little bit more on the filtering side of things when it comes to finding out what exactly permissions are doing. You can look into permissions that are reducing the battery life on your device, permissions that may end up costing you data and money, as well as creating your own customized searches based on specific permissions.

Some other apps of note: Permission Friendly Apps is a free app which concentrates on letting the user know which aps respect the privacy of the user and which apps have the most permission requests. Avast! also provides a scanner that analyzes permissions on your device, as well as boasting an antivirus program for your Android smartphone.

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