Back in October, Google announced some changes to its policy regarding some apps published in the Play Store, and their permissions, for security purposes, and the company has just shared some more info regarding all that via a new blog post. Google will basically prevent developers to release applications via the Play Store that require access to SMS or Call Log, and the company is not making first steps towards that.
The company has announced that it's starting to remove all apps that ask for either SMS or Call Log permissions, and that the process will be completed in the coming weeks. Now, there is a way for developers to avoid this, of course, as the need to submit a permission declaration form provided by Google.
In its blog post, Google said that it communicated these changes to developers via e-mail back when they were announced in October last year, and that if the developer did not make the necessary steps to prevent it from happening, its app will be removed from the Play Store.
If you're a developer, and your app does get removed from the Play Store as a result, you have several options. You can submit a new version of the application without these permissions, or complete the aforementioned permission declaration form. When you submit this form, you will get an extension until March 9 to either remove permissions, or get approved by Google, in which case your app will have access to such permissions (presuming a user has approved it, of course).
Why the change? Well, it seems like Google is trying to boost security, as a number of apps misused SMS and Call Log permissions in the past, and the company is aiming to prevent that. There are quite a few apps out there that require such permissions and simply do not need them, at least not to benefit the user.
Google wants to assure both developers and users that its team carefully reviews each submission, referring to the permissions declaration form. The company says that it considers a number of factors during the process, including likelihood that an average user would understand this type of app needs full access to the data, user benefit of the feature, importance of the permissions relative to the core functionality of the app, possible risks, and so on.
Some applications do need access to both your SMS and your Call Log info, of course. If you opt to use a third-party SMS app, or an alternative to your default "Phone" application, such applications will definitely need access to your SMS and Call Log, respectively, which is logical. Well, presuming that an app is legit, developers should not have an issue getting approved by Google, in which case their application can remain in the Play Store, and you can use it. Google says that a ton of developers already did everything that is required, and it seems like the process will be painless, for the most part, which are good news for both developers and users alike, of course.