Google Play Protect makes it easy to safeguard your privacy by automatically removing permissions from apps you don’t use very often.
When you install an app, it’ll often prompt you to grant it permission to do certain things on your phone. Permissions are essential to the running of the app, and they rarely bring any problems. But they do cover security- and privacy-sensitive areas.
So if you don’t use an app all that often, do you really need it to have permanent access to your files, the ability to send text messages, or to be able to turn on your microphone without you knowing?
Fortunately, it is possible to automatically revoke permissions from apps you no longer use but don’t want to uninstall. Here’s what you need to know.
Manage Permissions in Google Play Protect
Google Play Protect is Google’s security app for Android. It’s integrated into the Play Store, so is installed on every phone, and its main purpose is to scan all the apps you install—from the Play Store as well as those you’ve sideloaded—to ensure that they’re safe.
It also has an additional permissions management feature called App Privacy. If you haven’t used an app for at least three months, Play Protect will automatically revoke that app’s permissions. Next time you launch it, you’ll be prompted to grant them once more.
It’s a simple but effective trick that ensures apps that you don’t want to get rid of but rarely use cannot just sit in the background forever tracking your location, uploading your contacts, or worse. After all, some permissions can be pretty intrusive.
App Privacy is turned on by default, so you’ll never need to even touch it if you don’t want to. It’ll happily do its thing without any input from you. But if you do want to fine-tune how it works, you can.
Configure App Privacy in Play Protect
Get started by opening the Play Store app, tapping your user icon, and selecting Play Protect. Now tap the Settings icon in the top right corner and select Permissions for unused apps.
The next screen shows your App Privacy summary, and you can filter your options using the four buttons at the top.
- Permissions removed: shows the apps that have already had their permissions removed by Play Protect.
- Auto-remove on: shows the apps that will have their permissions removed if you go more than three months without opening them.
- Auto-remove off: shows the apps that are exempt from the process. By default, these are mostly the Google apps or apps that don’t have permissions in the first place.
- All apps: see all your apps on one screen.
To change the status of an app—to either set it to have its permissions removed, or to allow it to keep its permissions—tap the app and toggle Remove permissions if app isn’t used either on or off.
How to Revoke Permissions Manually
For the most part, allowing Play Protect to take control of your app permissions will be good enough. But if you want to take even more control, you can manually revoke permissions yourself.
- Head back into the App Privacy section in Play Protect.
- Tap on an app, and on the next screen, select Manage app permissions.
- Select Permissions.
- You’ll see all the requested and granted permissions listed here. Tap each one and either Allow or Deny it. In a few cases, you can set permissions to only be allowed while you’re using the app.
A Simple Way to Protect Your Privacy
Permissions are usually essential to the running of an app, so if you don’t want to approve them you’ll have to find a different app to use. They’re pretty harmless in most cases, but the more apps you install, the more parts of your phone and data you’ll be opening up to developers.
Play Protect removes any need to try and keep track of which apps can do what. Just allow it to run, configure it further if you want to, and then forget about it.
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