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How to view and manage app permissions

You might have noticed by now that apps, when installed on your phone, or when they have received a new update, require certain permissions in order to function on your phone. Some may need to have access to your camera and microphone, while others want to send text messages or copy your contacts (these are just a few of the existing permissions). You do, however, have the power to choose which permissions to give and to take in order to better protect your privacy and data.

Permissions have changed since Android 6.0 Marshmallow

Thanks to the Marshmallow update, users now have more control over app notifications, which was immediately obvious when using certain apps. Take WhatsApp for instance, after the update rolled out, I had to give WhatsApp permission to access the microphone when I was trying to send a voice message. If you do grant this type of permission, you can revoke it at any time.

How to do it? Head over to settings in your phone and hit Apps. Next, choose permissions and switch off the microphone toggle. Now that you have done this, you’ll have to grant Whatsapp permission again next time you want to send a voice message.

app permissions
To change the permissions for each app, head to Settings, then select Apps. Choose the app and press permissions. / © AndroidPIT

There were no new changes with the arrival of Nougat.

Permission management by smartphone manufacturers

Quite a few smartphone makers also bring this feature to their user interfaces. For example, Huawei offers the same function with the Mate 9, but back-to-front, meaning that instead of sorting apps, you sort permissions. This allows you to see all the apps with the same permission in one clear overview. Super nifty.

app permissions huawei
Huawei integrated a new way of managing permissions in your phone: sort apps by permission and not alphabetically. / © AndroidPIT

CyanogenMod Privacy Guard

CyanogenMod and other third-party firmwares also come with a Privacy Guard, which is found in the settings. If you happen to re-register the custom ROM, you will have to enable it again. It works on an opt-in system, so you have to set the checkbox to “default enabled”.

cyanogenmod privacy guard
CyanogenMod has a feature called Privacy Guard, which acts as a permissions manager. © AndroidPIT

CyanogenMod’s Privacy Guard is much more intelligently programmed than Android Marshmallow’s function. If you revoke permission for an app to have access to your contacts list using Privacy Guard, the latter will then give the app an empty list as opposed to nothing at all. This means that error messages and system crashes will be avoided, and the app remains functional. In addition, Cyanogen’s Privacy Guard works with apps with permissions that you can’t regularly change.

Do you pay attention to your app permissions or do you grant them freely? Will you pay closer attention in the future?

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