How Do App Permissions Work?

G

Guest

Guest
I'm mainly asking for my nephew (he's 12).

He'd like to know what it exactly means to have app permissions and why they're needed? He's been getting the 'safety on the internet' talks from the family and he's been asking questions like: 'why does this app need my contacts?' or 'why does this app need access to my camera?'

Some of them I could answer (for things like Snapchat and Facetime) but others are a little out of my depth. I'm wondering if the Community has any insight on Apps and App permissions?

-KerryT
 

TJ Hooker

Honorable
Apr 15, 2014
199
0
10,710
41
Are you asking why certain apps need permissions to certain things? Well, as you said, some are obvious e.g. snapchat needing permission for your camera. If there's a case where an app needs a permission and you can't figure out why, it could be:

a) It may legitimately need it for a feature/aspect of the app that you don't use. For example, I believe my text messages app wants permission to my microphone, because dictating texts is an option.

b) The app developers were lazy and just set it to ask for permissions for a bunch of stuff.

c) It may have some sort telemetry, i.e. it wants to data mine you.
 

USAFRet

Splendid
Moderator
he's been asking questions like: 'why does this app need my contacts?' or 'why does this app need access to my camera?'
1. Lazy and clueless "developers".
2. Or, "developers" that wish to aggregate the data from their app and sell that.

For #1 - An app needs a certain framework...a wrapper...to interact wit the device. PC, laptop, whatever.
Let's say that there was an app to interact with facebook. That WILL need access to your contacts list, maybe the camera and mic, your FB account.
So all that stuff is built into the wrapper.
Then, the code to actually do something is within that.

Later, some other dude comes along and wishes to make a flashlight app.
He might take that generic 'framework', and rip out the code to manipulate facebook, and insert 2 lines to turn the screen brightness up to 100%.
And for the sake of development speed (or ignorance), he just leaves all the original contact list, camera, etc code in there.
So when you install this flashlight app, it asks for access to your contacts list.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY