Google Play is the default store on most Android devices. Most Android users use the store to download new apps and games, and to update them.
Up until now, Google Play displayed permissions that an application needed to function. All applications have access to a base set of permissions that are not highlighted, but anything that goes beyond that needs to be specified in the application’s manifest.
When you browse apps or games on Google Play now, you may notice that the permissions listing is no longer available. It appears that Google decided that the new data safety listing is sufficient in this regard.
Publishers are required to provide data safety information, as Google made it mandatory. It is up to the publisher to fill out the information though. Neither the Google Play application nor the Google Play store website list permissions anymore.
Google has not revealed why it decided to remove the option to view application and game permissions on its Android store. It is possible that Google thought that the new Data Safety listing is sufficient, or that permissions could scare users.
There are still options to display permissions.
How to display Google Play Store permissions
Android users have some options when it comes to displaying application permissions. One option would be to analyze an application’s manifest file before installation, but this is time consuming and not really that practical.
A better option, highlighted by Mishaal Rahman on Twitter, is to use the open source Aurora Store application. Aurora Store is available on F-Droid, a free and privacy focused Android marketplace.
Aurora Store is a frontend for Google Play, which means that it pulls data directly from Google’s Store. Unlike Google Play, it provides users with important information, including permissions that applications request. The app lists trackers that are included in applications and games as well, which is another useful information.
A click on the permissions listing of an app in Aurora Store displays all the permissions that it requests. Note that Aurora Store does not display the Data Safety information yet in the interface.
With Aurora Store installed on the Android device, you could use it to look up the permissions of an app or game. Whether you install it from Google Play or through Aurora Store then is up to you.
The removal of permissions from Google Play is a step in the wrong direction. Google is still focused on limiting information and functionality to create a frictionless yet limited experience for its users. Users who need more information or options need to look elsewhere once again to obtain those.
Now You: what is your take on the removal of permissions on Google Play?