Billions more Android devices will reset risky app permissions

Google announced today that support for a recently released Android privacy protection feature would be backported to billions of devices running older Android versions later this year.

The permission auto-reset feature, first introduced with Android 11, is designed to protect users’ privacy by automatically removing runtime permissions for apps that haven’t been used for months.

Runtime permissions (aka dangerous permissions), as Google explains, display prompts to request access to sensitive or private user data.

When this feature starts rolling out to older Android devices, it will be made available on all devices with Google Play services and running Android 6.0 (API level 23) up to and including Android 10 (API level 29).

“Starting in December 2021, we are expanding this to billions more devices. This feature will automatically be enabled on devices with Google Play services that are running Android 6.0 (API level 23) or higher,” Google explained.

“On these devices, users can now go to the auto-reset settings page and enable/disable auto-reset for specific apps.

“The system will start to automatically reset the permissions of unused apps a few weeks after the feature launches on a device.”

Rolled out to all compatible devices until Q2 2022

While permission auto-reset will be enabled by default on Android 11 devices, users will be able to toggle it on manually on Android 6.0 or later.

The launch timeline starts with the auto-reset APIs (who were  made available to developers in beta on September 15) being released as stable in October.

Gradual rollout across all devices powered by Google Play Services and running Android 6.0 or later will start in December 2021.

The rollout process will end in Q1 2022 when the feature is expected to reach all compatible Android devices.

In July, Google also started emailing Android users that they will no longer be able to log in to their Google accounts on devices running Android 2.3.7 (Gingerbread) and lower.

The Android OS now powers over 3 billion devices around the world as Google’s VP of product management Sameer Samat revealed at this year’s Google I/O annual developer conference.

Android 11, the current stable Android version was released last year, on September 8, 2020.

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