Android 6.0 Marshmallow app permissions: a closer look


After months of being simply known as "Android M", it finally became clear that the upcoming major version of the OS will be known as Android 6.0 Marshmallow. The statue of the Android robot with a giant marshmallow was erected on the lawn in front of Alphabet's most important subsidiary, Google.

Well, the newest developer preview of the OS, the third one, is here and it's already treating us to some of the new fresh features that were demoed during Android M's announcement and will make an official debut later this year, when Marshmallow is going to hit the supported devices.

One of these, which is an important addition to the OS, is granular control over the permissions each and every app requires, giving Android users "meaningful choice and control". Just like in iOS, apps in Android 6.0 Marshmallow will only you to grant them a certain permission immediately before the app needs it and not in bulk during the installation, like in previous Android installments. 

We got the newest developer preview, and as we were moderately excited about the new app permissions feature, we took a closer look at the new app permissions manager that pops up along with the recent beta. For the most part, it's the same one that could be found in the previous developer previews, giving you a pretty good understanding of the permissions each app has been granted.

Talking about granular app permissions, Android 6.0 Marshmallow officially introduces API Level 23, which is one of the requirements to have app permissions that can be granted on demand. All Android apps need to be updated so that they support the brand new API0 Level 23 libraries in order to introduce the individual granular app permissions.

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The permission manager can be found in the Apps section inside the Settings menu; once you go there, you need to tap the gear icon at the top, which will hence open the menu giving you access to the app permission manager. Inside, you're presented to a list view of various permissions, like body sensors, calendar, camera, contacts, location, microphone, phone, SMS, storage, and three new categories that came with the Marshmallow dev preview 3, car information, read instant messages and write instant messages. Under each type of app permission, you can see how many apps have been granted access to it by you, the user.  

Of course, they wouldn't be called "granular app permissions" if they didn't allow you to fine tune and disable permissions for individual apps. Tap on a given category and you will be greeted by a list of the apps that are currently enabled to make use of it. You can flip the corresponding switch and grant or revoke the permission in question for the particular app.

This makes app permissions way more transparent - users will have a much clearer understanding of what they're granting each and every app they install. Yet, the same can't be said for app developers, as they'll need to go through their apps and implement the new changes if they want to make use of the new revamped permission system without issues.

It is stressed by Google itself that developers should update their apps and extensively test out the new API libraries and revamped app permissions feature so that any issues and bugs can be ironed out before the sweet new Android officially launches later this year. Here's to hoping that the majority of app developers will listen to Google and update their software.

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