According to XDA-Developers Google is restricting apps from being able to see the other installed apps on your device. This change comes via the Developer Program Policy which now makes it harder for the apps to see other installed apps. This is a great new feature that many should really like.
Google says that it regards the full list of installed apps on a user’s device to be personal and sensitive information. Due to this fact, the company will limit which apps can access this information. Google is keeping users’ privacy safe with different approaches lately. So this change seems to fit in line with its other moves.
Google says it will be restricting which apps can request the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission specifically. As of now, this is required for any apps targeting API level 30 (Android 11) and above that want to query the list of installed apps.
Going forward to use the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission will require for the app’s functionality to depend on it. To clarify, an app’s functionality must depend on accessing the list of installed apps.
In order to enforce this, developers will have to “sufficiently justify why a less intrusive method of app visibility will not sufficiently enable your app’s policy-compliant user-facing core functionality”.
Google is restricting apps from accessing a users’ list of installed packages
The outline of permitted uses of the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission is below:
Permitted use involves apps that must discover any and all installed apps on the device, for awareness or interoperability purposes may have eligibility for the permission. Permitted use includes; device search, antivirus apps, file managers, and browsers.
Now if an app does not meet these requirements then the developer must remove the permission to stay compliant. Developers whose apps do meet the requirements can use the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission, but the developers must sign a declaration form.
Failure to submit the form to the Play Console will result in the removal of the developers’ app. Starting May 5, 2021, is when the new change will take effect. In November this year, Google will require all apps to target API 30 at a minimum.
With the focus on privacy becoming more and more mainstream this is a great policy change that Google is enforcing. Sometimes apps that can see your full list of installed apps can spy on you. Some malicious third parties may even be able to spy on your device usage.
Some apps can inundate users with apps thanks to device usage information. Nobody likes being flooded with ads, especially when it seems like related ads seem like they’re psychic.