Android app permissions using App Ops [not 4.4]


UPDATE 15/11/13: Android 4.4 KitKat doesn’t support App ops. The code has been removed in this build [KRT16M]. Therefore, if you decide to upgrade to Android 4.4 KitKat and you want to use shortcut apps such as those mentioned in this post, App ops will not work.

App ops is a hidden app permission feature in Android 4.3 that was discovered late last month. App Ops allows users to disable app specific permissions after install. We’ve reviewed App ops and believe you could utilize this hidden feature right now. It’s also expected that Google will allow uses to manage app permissions on install, but this is still to be confirmed. See bootnote.

We used Activity Launcher (available from the Play Store), which launches hidden activities and creates a home screen shortcut for installed apps. This is the easiest method of finding the hidden ‘App ops’. You don’t need root/super user privilege to use this app.

  • Download and install Activity Launcher
  • Tap > Activity Launcher icon and click the drop down top left > All activities
  • Scroll down to > Settings (tap arrow down to open the settings list)
  • Scroll down the settings list and tap > App ops*
  • You can access apps that use ‘Location’; (swipe left) ‘Personal’; ‘Messaging’ & ‘Device’ *
  • Swipe left to ‘Device’ and tap > Facebook version 3.5 (this is the latest 29.08.13)
  • i.e. Facebook has permissions granted to access your Location; Read contacts; Modify contacts; Vibrate; Post notification; draw on top; and Camera** You can switch these off/on (by default they are currently set to ‘on’)

* Apps can have access to more than location. Facebook permissions can for example be managed using ‘Location’; ‘Personal’; and ‘Device’. If you use the Facebook Messenger app, then you will need to control these permissions separately.

** Each permission also highlights when it was last accessed i.e hours, days, yesterday etc.

It’s important to note that switching off some permissions might stop an app from working properly. So, be extra careful when playing around with app permissions.

Safe surfing folks!

Bootnote:$AppOpsSummaryActivity *this can be found in data/data/ (using Super User). Why not check out the Manifest file for App ops from Google Source:

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