Graceful degradation of apps via permissions under android 6.0

Android 6.0 Marshmallow has a very nice feature, something I have been wanting to see more across all services and applications. Granular permissions, which can be applied and revoked by the user at anytime.

It was obvious that iOS had it right as far as transparent, granular app permissions were concerned, and Android Marshmallow admits as much, because it now has a very similar system. Permissions are asked for as and when they’re needed, rather than all at once during installation.

That gives you a better idea of what’s going on and also let’s you, for example, give Facebook access to your camera but not your contacts. If you want to check which apps have what permissions (and edit them), go to Settings: tap Apps then the cog icon, then choose App permissions.

Android 6.0 permission system
Why does BBC iPlayer Radio need access to my phone?

Since android 6.0 marshmallow, i’ve wanted to try out the app permission tweaker. I’m interested to see what happens when I block certain apps from key permissions. Will they explode will they gracefully handle it and still operate without it?
For example could I run facebook app and deny access to the internet, or local storage? OK that might be a little too far but what about facebook without access to the mic and camera? Surely that would work right?

So I tried it with the Amazon kindle app, which I always thought had too many permissions anyway. I mean why does the kindle app need access to my contacts and my telephone?!

Android 6.0 permission system

Haven turned them off, I thought I’d better see if the app still actually worked?

Android 6.0 permission system

It did! So I started revoking permissions from apps which I felt didn’t need the permissions. For example Fitbit, which I refused to upgrade in the past due to the permissions.

Android 6.0 permission system

Why does Fitbit need so many permissions anyway!

Android 6.0 permission system

Andorid warms me the app may break as its not written for Android 6.0. But it still works as I want it to., so this has to be a case of them over reaching with the data they want to consume?
Say hello to your new permissions Fitbit, and it works fine when syncing data from the Fitbit.

Android 6.0 permission system

Fitbit better get use to the sandbox I put it in, and they are not the only one!

Android 6.0 permission system
Android 6.0 permission system

This for me is a key part of the VRM infrastructure as Adriana said

If you cannot reject them, if you cannot actually say well, I’m fine with that but not with that, what’s the point?

Great to see it working as expected, graceful degradation of applications based on permissions. I might be able to install Facebook again.

Update

I installed Facebook messenger again with the permissions I felt comfortable with.

Then decided actually I want to break FB messenger as its meant to be written for Android 6.0, so denied it access to my location too.

Installing Facebook messenger under Android 6.0

I can say everything  works, and I haven’t seen any problems so far with my permissions. I did notice you can start to mess with the data usage too, which maybe a way to restrict network usage.?

Author: Ianforrester

Senior firestarter at BBC R&D, emergent technology expert and serial social geek event organiser.

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