Android Apps Won’t Have Access to Background Location Data without Google’s Approval

Google is working to limit the use of location data by Android app developers, with the express goal of limiting the information collected by third parties.

Android’s operating system used to be much more lax on apps using location data provided by mobile devices, and that includes Google’s own apps. Slowly, the developer’s access to this function has been limited, and users have been given more control.

Google’s direction for the Android operating system is to grant users more control over apps that request and use location data, even if it’s not vital for the app itself. Of course, third-party developers will have to push updates for their apps once the new policy is enforced.

As it stands, in Android 10, when an app requests access to location data, users are asked if they want to give that app permanent access or only when the app is in use. Google says that, since this policy was introduced, more than 50% of users chose the limited access option.

“Now in Android 11, we’re giving users even more control with the ability to grant a temporary “one-time” permission to sensitive data like location,” explained Krish Vitaldevara, Director of Product Management Trust & Safety, Google Play. “When users select this option, apps can only access the data until the user moves away from the app, and they must then request permission again for the next access.”

Google also discovered that many apps request background access to location data, even if they don’t need it explicitly. Going forward, policy will forbid this type of behavior, and that means developers will have to make essential changes to their apps, following a few simple rules:

  • Does the feature deliver clear value to the user?
  • Would users expect the app to access their location in the background?
  • Is the feature important to the primary purpose of the app?
  • Can you deliver the same experience without accessing the location in the background?

The company also gives developers a strict timeline, with November 2nd, 2020 as the deadline. Past this date, all apps that request background location will need to be approved or will be removed from Google Play. Not all developers will make the changes, and some apps will be booted from the Play Store.

One comment

  • By Timothy Glover - Reply

    It gets frustrating when I walk into a store and don’t make a purchase then to get bombarded with email from that store because my phone shows and shares my location

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