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App Ops removed by Google in Android 4.4.2 update

Posted: , by Alan F.

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App Ops removed by Google in Android 4.4.2 update
On Friday night, we quickly touched on Google's removal of the App Ops hidden feature with the update to Android 4.4.2. The app was actually hidden until you installed a third party app. At that point, App Ops would appear and allow you to decide which data the app would have access to. This would appear to be a timely feature considering the recent news that your mild-mannered flashlight app was shining light on more than just dark walls in your room.

The App Ops app, removed by Google in Android 4.4.2

The App Ops app, removed by Google in Android 4.4.2

So why was such a useful tool like App Ops removed? Google says that it was not yet ready for consumers to use. According to Google, App Ops can actually break some of the apps that it follows. Yet, the app was on Android builds from 4.3 through the recent Android 4.4.1 update. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is requesting that Google re-install App Ops on a upcoming Android update and also asks that Google take a few steps to protect Android users' privacy.

Among these steps that EFF is asking for is a single switch (toggle or otherwise) that would allow Android users to shut down all identifying data by an app including phone numbers, IMEI numbers and information about individual accounts. The organization would also like to see a way to shutdown many apps' ability to access the cellular pipeline used by a phone's owner. Certain apps do not need to be able to access the network. EFF also wants a way to make App Ops less hidden and more integrated into the OS.

Assuming that Google isn't blowing smoke, and App Ops does break third party apps, there is no reason why Google couldn't rework it and have it eventually available in the Google Play Store. On the other hand, if Google is just loathe to give Android users' ultimate control over app permissions, then you have a better shot at finding Jimmy Hoffa than you do seeing App Ops on the Android OS again.

source: EFF, Reuters

6 Comments
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posted on 14 Dec 2013, 01:50 3

1. shahulvm (Posts: 116; Member since: 01 Apr 2012)


If Google implemented this full fledged, then none but Google would be the biggest losers. Hence, this will never see the light, unless highlighted big in the press by major tech websites.

Why so? If we disable the location permission etc which google relies on effects their maps. Similarly, if certain restrictions are implemented on Gmail app, then access to contact, call records for the app would go away which would effect their Adv revenue.. and so on..

In my view, they had implemented this to make Android OS flexible to user's need and then they would have later realized that it would indirectly affect their revenue, hence the removal of Ops App option.

This is just my guess, but I do believe that it could be true.

posted on 14 Dec 2013, 10:10

3. cj100570 (Posts: 204; Member since: 12 May 2009)


You're the 1st person I've seen that has taken the time to put away the torch and pitchfork and look at the big picture instead of crying foul. I'm normally a big supporter of the EFF but they've stirred up a garnets nest for no reason. Google knows what it's doing. And those that don't like it can always go use iOS, Windows Phone or Blackberry which make it so easy to change permissions and tinker with the OS....

posted on 14 Dec 2013, 01:52 1

2. Reality_Check (Posts: 269; Member since: 15 Aug 2013)


XDA + Xposed framework fTw \m/

http://www.xda-developers.com/android/xposed-module-brings-back-app-ops-to-android-4-4-2-and-gives-your-control-of-your-application-permissions/

posted on 14 Dec 2013, 11:40

4. cripton805 (Posts: 920; Member since: 18 Mar 2012)


I just wish I didnt need so many darn accounts on my phone for everything google related.

posted on 14 Dec 2013, 13:00 1

5. fur0n (Posts: 69; Member since: 13 Jun 2012)


well, if you are still looking for the same ability, go to CyanogenMod which has Privacy Guard.

posted on 15 Dec 2013, 09:03

6. TheOldOne (Posts: 90; Member since: 29 Mar 2012)


true, you can find it in CM11 (4.4+) under Settings-Security-Privacy Guard. It is the same interface as the one from AppOpts.

I have to say that this one works, as opposed to stock android 4.3 , where I honestly didn't see those options enforced.

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