One of the standout new features in Android 10 is the new permissions control center. If you head to Settings > Privacy > Permission manager on your smartphone, you can see all the Android 10 permissions requested by the various apps installed.
Within that control center, you can alter which apps can access various aspects of your data. For example, you can allow an app to access your call logs while denying another, or you can allow an app to access your location all the time, only while the app is open, or never.
This new Android 10 permissions center is really powerful and gives users a much tighter control over their personal data. However, it’s also quite alarming as you can now see just how many apps are feeding off your data with little reason to do so. You can also see that some apps are getting top-level permissions without your say-so, which is a little concerning.
Some apps don’t default correctly
Most of the data controls within the Android 10 permissions center only allow you to turn permissions on or off for any given app. However, for location permissions, you can fine-tune things a bit.
As I mentioned already, in the case of location permissions you can choose “Allow all the time” or “Allow only while using the app,” as depicted in the image above. You can also choose to fully deny permissions if you like.
When you first install an app, it’s automatically set to deny location access. When you first open up the app, you should see the box in the image above so you can make the appropriate choice.
This doesn’t appear to be the case all the time.
It was quite alarming to see Android apps with top-level permissions on my clean install of Android 10.
When I first installed the stable build of Android 10 on my OnePlus 7 Pro, I used the Google Play Store’s backup function to restore all the apps I had installed on my Android 9 Pie build. I’m guessing some of the apps I had previously used on Pie automatically got granted top-level access to certain permissions, as some apps have “Allow all the time” for location access even though I definitely didn’t grant them that on Android 10.
For example, I use Expensify to track work expenses for reimbursement. I haven’t used the app since I upgraded to Android 10 — in fact, I haven’t even logged into it. Yet it’s on the list of “Allow all the time” for location requests. The same thing goes for the Cinemark app, the Best Buy app, Uber, and a few more that carried over from my previous install.
Thankfully, it’s easy enough to switch any rogue apps to “Allow only while using the app” or simply deny them. How many people out there are going to think to do this when they upgrade to Android 10?
Visit the Android 10 permissions center as soon as you upgrade
As of right now, not too many people are using Android 10. When you do get the chance to upgrade, though, you should absolutely make the Android 10 permissions center one of the first places you visit. Go through each permission category and see if there are any apps that don’t belong there.
I found some real doozies. For example, the Speedtest app had permission to make and manage phone calls (why?!), and the parking app ParkMobile had permission to track my physical activity. Google News had access to my contacts, and the iRobot app (which controls my Roomba) was tracking my location all the time. There’s simply no reason for these permissions to be active so I shut them all off.
While Android 10’s new system is very powerful, it won’t do much for you if you don’t use it. Give it a shot when you can!