Android 4.3 permission manager; what it is and how it works [HOWTO]

July 26, 2013

    Android 4.3

    Android 4.3 is out! Even though it’s an incremental update at best, it still brought with it a number of enhancements and features, including support for 4k displays. However, that’s not all Android 4.3 was packing. Underneath the improvements we could see in Android 4.3 was a secret feature that is, for the time being, hidden. Much like the multi-user feature in earlier versions of Android, this hidden feature can only be accessed if you know where to look for it. So what is it exactly? It’s a Permissions Manager.

    Okay, here’s some Android 101. When you download an app, the app usually requires permissions. GPS apps need to access your GPS so it can find your location. Most of the time, they make sense. Sometimes, they do not make sense. For instance, Facebook wants to read your call logs. We have no idea why Facebook would want to read your call log, but it does. The idea behind this Permission Manager hidden in Android 4.3 is to give you control over what permissions apps are allowed to have. So if you don’t want Facebook to see your call logs, you can tell it to stop.

    As Android Police reports, this hidden feature is actually accessible to anyone who is running Android 4.3. So if you have that lovely update, this is available to you right now. Don’t know how to use it? That’s okay, we’ll tell you. If you have Android 4.3 and you want to try out this permission manager, here’s our how-to.

    • Step 1 – Have Android 4.3.
    • Step 2 – Download this application. This app will give you access to what is called “App ops”, which is the Permission Manager.
    • Step 3 – …
    • Step 4 – Profit!

    I’m in the Android 4.3 Permission Manager. Now what?

    That was easier than expected, right? So once you’re in the Permission Manager, you’ll need to know how to use it. The first thing you’ll see is a list of apps and 4 tabs. The tabs are Location, Personal, Messaging, and Device. These organize your apps based on what permissions they use. If you download Google Hangouts, it’s probably in the messaging list. Things like your camera app will likely be in device. You get the idea.

    From there, you can select any app on the list. You’ll then be presented by every permission that app uses with a handy on-off switch. From here, you can turn various permissions on and off. Don’t want Facebook to read your call logs? Turn it off! Don’t want it to know where you are? Turn off the location permission. Keep in mind that the app will still work, it just won’t be able to do those things. So if you, for instance, check into places over Facebook, turning off the location permissions will likely make that feature much more difficult to use.

    The last thing we’ll talk about is what the Permission Manager can see. As Ron Amadeo reports, some permissions don’t even show up until you use them in the app. In his example, the “Camera” and “read call log” permissions didn’t even show up until he imported his contacts into Facebook and then posted something with his camera. So keep in mind if you try it out, you may have to fiddle with the app a little bit to get all the permissions to show up.

    Lastly, as you can probably imagine, this isn’t a fully working feature yet. While something simple like disabling “read call log” won’t do much of anything, other permissions in other apps can. If you disable the Camera permission in your camera app, your camera app will cease to function properly. If you disable Location in Google Maps, it won’t be able to find you in order to give you directions. There is a reason this is a hidden feature and that is because it is not ready yet. So if you do use the Permission Manager, you do so at your own risk.

    Standard boilerplate aside, is there anyone who will be checking this functionality out? Or would you rather wait until it’s a live feature? If you want to discuss it, feel free to do so in our comment section.

    Comments

    • Misti curia

      Wicked

    • Balraj

      Wow
      Super…..

    • Kumar

      Great! On your face..book.

    • Andrew P.

      Good idea, but I’ll leave it alone for now until it’s live, or a more stable and usable beta instead of an alpha (which is what this sounds like)

    • Frank Lloyd Curwen III

      Sounds like a good addition, however I’m sure google will restrict it when it comes to certain features like internet access as apps still need to display ads because google still needs our clicks. Is it possible to disable internet access as of now? I’m on the GNote 2 so I’m waiting for my rumoured 4.3 update with excitement :)

      • alex13809

        Get droidwall and simply block its access through that, its a firewall app.

    • John

      For a complete permissions manager -not a half-assed as this one- look for Xprivacy on xda-developers forum.

    • Rockfreak

      Great app just what we needed to stop some apps tracking us 24/7!

    • mrjayviper

      was looking for something like this (built-in into android) as I want to stop messaging app from accessing my GPS location. I thought it would be easily found on android (being a more user and open ecosystem/OS) as on iOS, I can control GPS access per app. seems it’s not possible with 4.2.2. Google playing catch up here.

    • ZAguy

      AOKP has a full permission manager built in now, on their latest milestone build. Which is JB 4.2.2

      • MasterMuffin

        Yes, this has been a feature in custom ROMs for a long, everyone knows that. Now it’s in official firmware

    • jizzs

      Whats annoying is i bought one that does the same thing on the app store ahaa i should have just gotten the apk of permission denied insted :/ but nice to see google bringing this so that we wont have to root the device

    • Luka Mlinar

      WTF Google. where was this option before when it mattered? When turning of location permission would save us a fair bit of RAM. Hell, i still have a 512MB RAM phone with ICS and i have to turn of maps every few hours just to see it turn back on again.

    • rohan crain

      I use this app and it’s absolutely great if you know how to use it! I’ve gotten so much more battery life out of my nexus 7!

    • palma

      finally, better late than never, but I wish they give this feature since Eclair,

    • thanjuzo

      this means that a user level app can repackage an APK and let it be correctly signed without app’s author action ? strange.

    • Harold

      The app mentioned above is now full of ads. Here is a free alternative: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=me.boogoo.permissionmanager.app.ops.launcher&hl=de

    • Tar

      I disabled Location permissions to Maps, but it kept happily showing my (movig!) location. So I fear it doesn’t really work. A step in the right direction though, of course!

    • http://annunakimaster.blogspot.com/ AnnunakiEnvoy

      I can feel it. This addition to Android 4.3 is interesting. I want this update because I want to be in control of my S3. Right now I really don’t know if my S3 just suddenly take a video of me naked.

    • JT

      This permission manager (launches app ops) is FREE:
      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mobi.facelock.permissionmanager
      UNLIKE the appholics one that everyone downloaded at first and that requires you to pay now!

    • D B

      Finally! Was about time they implemented this. MIUI has had this for a long time, and much better.

    • test

      how do you change the background color/fonts of the permission manager?

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