Google Explains Android Q Location Data-Related Changes

Google Android Q Illustration Logos AH March 13 2019

Revamped location permissions allow users of devices that run Android Q to have more control over how applications access their location data, and Google is providing resources and advice to app creators as they modify their software in response to changes in the operating system.

The previous implementation of location permissions enables applications to gain access to positional data of the user, even when the app is not in use. With the beta version of Android Q, users may now limit when an application could share the device’s location data with its servers.

People may choose to allow the app to upload the location data to servers in the background by selecting the “all the time” option, or they may only permit the software to share information when the app is open and in use when they select the “while in use” option. Users may also choose the “deny” prompt to prevent applications from accessing location data.


Developers of the Android operating system provided a couple of examples on what level of access is required by an application. For example, apps that measure the number of miles driven by the user needs access to the location data all the time. In contrast, software that people use to search for nearby restaurants or other commercial establishments only need to share location data when the app is in use. Just in case users chose the option that limits the essential functionalities of an application, they may change the permissions given to the software by proceeding to the location section of the device settings.

Google acknowledges that changes in location permissions could significantly affect the features and user experience of applications, and to mitigate the impact of these changes, the search giant promises that it will give developers as much time as possible to update their apps before the stable build of Android Q rolls out.

Google will also provide resources where app creators can get more information about the changes made to the operating system. Furthermore, the tech firm is advising developers to better explain to users why their applications require location data since people will more likely grant app permissions if they understand why these permissions are necessary, although Google also requests app creators to only ask for levels of access to location data that their application needs.


On a more technical note, if the software requires access to location data at all times, application developers will have to add the “access_background_location” permission when their apps target Android Q, although this permission will be automatically included into the app if it targets older versions of the Android OS.

Changes made to location permissions is one of the few modifications incorporated to Android Q that aims to safeguard the privacy of the user. With Android Q, users may now control how shared files can be accessed and determine the specific data that an app can open. Moreover, the operating system will also limit access to device identifiers like IMEI and serial numbers.

Many applications require location data to provide an innovative user experience, and the changes made to Android OS could fundamentally affect how these apps work. However, the early introduction of these changes should allow developers to modify their apps before Android Q rolls out to more users. Interestingly, developers of Android OS still relies on app creators not asking for a more extensive level of access than what is needed by the app, and some developers may not heed the advice of the search giant.