To prevent application developers from getting data about other installed applications on a user’s device, Google is making a significant change to its Developer Policy Program. From 5th May onwards, the Mountain View giant will bind app developers from viewing what other applications a user have installed on their Android device.
In technical terms, Google will restrict access to the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission for applications on a user’s device. This permission gives applications access to the list of applications installed on a device. It is currently needed for applications that are targeting Android API level 30 (Android 11) and require to query the installed applications.
So, from May 5, the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission can only be used by applications whose main function will be to query the list of installed applications on an Android device. Google says that developers will need to “adequately explain why a less interfering method of application visibility will not sufficiently enable [their] app’s policy-compliant user-facing core functionality.”
As a result, applications that need access to the list of installed applications to function will only be permitted to use the said permission. This includes applications under categories such as file managers, search, antivirus, and browsers.
In case an application does not meet the mentioned conditions, the developers need to remove the permission from the apps’ core code to comply with the Play store Policy. Moreover, even if an application meets all the conditions, the developer requires to sign a declaration on the Play Console to use the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission. The company also advised that if a developer fails to sign the Declaration Form, his/her application will be removed from the Play Store.
Now, as you can imagine, this is pretty solid progress by Google to prevent wicked applications from gaining a path to the list of other installed applications on your device. This way, it will be much harder for any application to see on your application list and present targeted ads.