Android to Possibly Get iOS-grade Privacy Controls (for non-rooted users)

Paranoid Android App Ops

You’ve no idea how hard it was for this fandroid to write that title, but it’s true: iOS respects its users’ personal data more than the vast majority of Android distributions out there. The exceptions are:

1. A custom ROM with a built-in permissions manager;
2. Some other implementation of App Ops for rooted users;
3. A scant few stock Android distributions like Cyanogen OS and MIUI.

App Ops showed up as a hidden feature in Android 4.3 and was all but removed in later versions of 4.4 KitKat. Google maintains that it was never meant to be a user-facing feature, but that didn’t stop custom ROM developers (and Xposed Module authors) from making it available to users anyway. And again, without some implementation of AppOps your personal data is less secure than it would be with iOS.

Thankfully this may change with the next version of Android, set to début at Google I/O later this month.

Here’s the scoop from Bloomberg:

Google’s Android operating system is set to give users more detailed choices over what apps can access, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter remains private. That could include photos, contacts or location. An announcement of the change, which would put Android closer in line with Apple Inc.’s iOS, is expected for Google’s developer’s conference in San Francisco this month, one of the people said.

What can I say? This feature should have been available to all Android users a long time ago. I’m grateful to have enjoyed it on my many custom ROMs, and it’s why I insist on having an unlockable bootloader on all my Android devices.

Further reading:

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