In my Android 12 beta hands-on, I made it clear that the changes made to privacy happens to be one of the main highlights in Google’s next mobile operating system version. Google has recently revealed how the Google Play Store will see changes in the future so that it can be even more secure for the users, which is pretty much in alignment with what Android 12 is all about.
- Google Play Store will show the type of data collected by an app and why.
- This transparency policy is there even before you download an app from the Play Store.
- The new security guidelines will go into effect from April 2022.
At Google I/O in May, there was plenty of talk concerning security and privacy optimizations across Google’s services. One of them involved the Android operating system, which introduced the Privacy Dashboard in the system settings, allowing you to check just which apps are consuming the smartphone’s resources in real-time. The inclusion of such a function that runs in the background will serve to increase people’s confidence in the mobile OS.
This week, Suzanne Frey, Android’s vice president of security and privacy, revealed how the Google Play Store will approach this issue. According to her, the transparency begins even before you even download an app in the Google Play Store:
Developers will be able to give users deeper insight into their privacy and security practices, as well as explain the data the app may collect and why — all before users install the app.
In order to achieve that end, a Safety Section will be introduced just below the app information in the Play Store. You will be able to have more direct access to the app permissions, as well as additional insight into how our data will be used when we download the app from the Play Store.
This way, we will have an explanation from the developer about the kind of data a particular app collects or shares. More than that, we will also have additional details concerning the app’s security practices, including data encryption among others, or whether the app follows Google’s Families Policy.
This is also where we will obtain more information about the kind of data that is collected and shared, ranging from location to contacts, personal information (such as your name or email address), and financial information. This will state whether the data is used for app functionality or simple personalization, in addition to whether the data collection is optional or a requirement before using the app.
Starting from October, anyone who develops an Android app and makes it available on the Google Play Store will be able to submit such security and privacy requirements that their apps will use to the Google Play Console, the Android store’s software management platform.
According to Suzanne, the new security section will arrive in the Play Store some time in Q1 2022. If an app developer did not gain approval in this aspect, they will no longer be able to make requests for app submissions to the Google Play Console, and new software version updates may be rejected in the future.
Also, the message “No information available” will be part of the security section if the app’s information is not approved by Google in any way. This way, those who wish to download the app from the Play Store will be able to opt out based on the absence of such information.
The Google Play Store has closed the gap with the Apple App Store
Inspired by Apple’s mantra, Google wants to make the Play Store a safer place for anyone using an Android device, allowing it to increase control over the app ecosystem.
Last year, Apple announced “Apple Labels” which, as the name suggests, are “labels” added to the app page in order to provide a more transparent take on the usage and collection of people’s data by apps developed for iOS, iPadOS, and WatchOS. That’s precisely what Google is doing right now.
Personally, I approve of this effort, especially since Google itself will have to be more transparent about their own services. What about you? What do you think of this move by the Internet search giant to offer more transparency to the Play Store? I’m curious to know your opinion is in the comments below.