Last month, Google made some changes to the Google Play Developer Policy, which outlines how apps can access confidential user information like call logs and text messages. Essentially, this restricted which apps can ask for access to this information. According to the revised policy, only apps that have been configured as ‘default’ for making calls and handling text can request access to call logs and messages, respectively.
According to a report by XDA Developers, developers whose apps need extra permissions for additional functionality must submit a ‘Permissions Declaration Form’ to Google, explaining why their apps need access to SMS and call logs. This procedure is mandatory for the apps to get Google Play approval, and if Google thinks access to these extra permissions isn’t ‘essential’ for the app, the form gets rejected.
While this change is indeed beneficial for security of users’ private data, it also has a negative impact on the functionality of some third-party apps. That’s because if an app needs access to call logs/SMSes to provide a feature that Google thinks doesn’t affect the app’s ‘core’ functionality, the app is likely to be denied Google Play approval. So even if just one of an app’s many useful features requires access to call logs and text messages, the app will get rejected in its entirety.
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Due to Google’s new hard-handed approach, app developers may be forced to remove useful functionality from their apps, in order to ensure that they get listed on the Play Store. As per XDA Developers’ report, some of the apps that have been affected by this change include EasyJoin and ACR Recorder.