Google to Screen Android Apps Requesting Background Location Data

Android app developers will soon need approval from the Google Play team before accessing a user’s location data in the background.

To make this happen, Google will soon ask app developers to give the list of permissions they will be seeking from a device, and will approve them once it’s satisfied with the use case of the app, reads a new Android Developers Blog post.

Additionally, Google has removed the “allow all the time” permission from the dialogue box by default. That means an app can’t ask for background location information at the launch. As a developer, if your app needs to have background location permission, you’ll need to ask your user to go through the settings and enable it explicitly.

“As we took a closer look at background location usage, we found that many of the apps that requested background location didn’t actually need it,” explains Krish Vitaldevara, Director of Product Management Trust & Safety at Google Play.

“In fact, many of these apps could provide the same user experience by only accessing location when the app is visible to the user,” he continues. “We want to make it easier for users to choose when to share their location and they shouldn’t be asked for a permission that the app doesn’t need.”

Developers will soon need approval form Google to even request background access to the user’s location, based on the following parameters:

  • Does the feature deliver clear value to the user?
  • Would users expect the app to access their location in the background?
  • Is the feature important to the primary purpose of the app?
  • Can you deliver the same experience without accessing location in the background?

The process will be part of the Google Play policy update which will be rolled out from April this year, and Google hopes to put the screening into practice by August.

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