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Google in hot water over removed Android permissions app

The Mountain View giveth and the Mountain View taketh away
Mon Dec 16 2013, 15:46
Google Nexus 5 with Android 4.4 Kitkat press shot

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Google gave users unprecedented freedom to adjust app permissions, then promptly took it away.

App Ops Launcher was introduced to Android 4.4 Kitkat and allowed users to install apps and then decide how much information they wanted each app to have access to, such as location data, contact details and so on.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) published a blog post applauding the new functionality and hailing it as a huge leap forward for transparency. The EFF asked, "How are users supposed to know what 'read phone state and identity' means? Why isn't it split into multiple permissions, one of which is 'let the app track me'?"

However the excitement was shortlived, when after less than 24 hours the functionality disappeared. The EFF was dismayed and asked Google for comment. Google's response was that the functionality was only experimental and "it could break some of the apps policed by it", as it was not finished code.

This did not sit well with the EFF, which published another blog post decrying the decision and advising their users not to accept updates as "the update to Android 4.4.2 contains fixes to security and denial-of-service bugs". This is yet another voice adding the the groundswell of dissatisifaction with the latest version of Android following a serious of complaints on the Google product forums.

Whether this feature is indeed meant to be not for public consumption, or just not quite ready for primetime yet remains to be seen.

In the meantime, all is not lost. If your device is rooted or if you've switched to a custom ROM from Cyanogenmod, then App Ops can be reenabled. The rest of us will just have to wait for Google. µ

 

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