As a basic privacy concern, what permissions your phone’s apps have is a pretty important one. More recent versions of Android (6.x and up) let you control what your apps can access. Here’s how it works.
Back in the old days—we’re talking Android Lollipop (5.x) and below here—you basically had two choices when it came to Android permissions: accept all permissions an app requested, or don’t use the app. It was that simple. Regardless of whether or not there was a good reason for an app needing access to a specific permission, it wasn’t something you had much control over.
But starting with Android Marshmallow (6.x), that changed. Google implemented a way to control permissions on a per-app basis. That means if you see something you’re not totally comfortable with—like a weather app wanting access to your call log, for example—you can simply disallow that particular permission and continue using the app.
How to Control Permissions on Android
There are two ways to control permissions on Android. You can view a list of permissions, and then see all the apps that have been granted that permission. Or, you can view all the permissions granted to a particular app.
How to View All Apps Granted a Particular Permission
Pull down the notification shade, and then tap the Settings cog. In the Settings menu, tap the “Apps & Notifications” setting.
If your phone is running Android Nougat (7.x) or Marshmallow (6.x), tap the cog icon in the upper right corner, and then choose the “App Permissions” option.
If your phone is running Oreo (8.x) or above, tap the “Advanced” option, and then tap the “App Permissions” setting.
On the App Permissions page, you can scroll through the entire list of permissions and see how many apps have access to each permission type. Tap any permission type (such as Calendar) to see the apps that have been granted permission. If you see something fishy, just tap the slider to disallow that permission for that specific app.
How to View All Permissions Granted to a Particular App
If there’s one specific app you’re concerned about, you can check its full list of permissions rather than searching through the whole permissions list.
Pull down the notification shade, and then tap the cog icon. On the Settings menu, tap the “Apps & Notifications” entry.
If your phone is running Nougat (7.x) or Marshmallow (6.x), you’ll just get a full list of all your apps right on this page. On Oreo (8.x), you’ll need to tap “See All xx Apps” to see the list.
Then, just tap the app for which you want to see permissions.
On the App Info page, tap the “Permissions” option. The App Permissions page shows you all the permissions the app has been granted. To deny a permission, just slide its toggle to the off position.
So, What Happens When A Permissions is Denied?
This is a good question, and unfortunately, the answer isn’t straightforward. Maybe nothing will happen. Maybe it will break everything. It all depends on the app, the permission, and what the access is needed for.
So, for example, if you download a camera app and then deny the camera permission, the app won’t work very well—or at all, really.
But if you deny that same app access to, say, your calendar, it probably isn’t as big of a deal. Location is another good example, especially where camera apps are concerned—denying this particular permission won’t necessarily break the app, but it will prevent the app from being able to geotag your photos. That may or may not be something you want.
So the best thing you can do is just try it. Disable a permission and see what happens. There’s a chance you’ll be able to continue using the app without any issues. But if you notice some things not working, you’ll know why.