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This is sad.

With all the posturing Google has done over the NSA stuff, and having encouraged people to sign the petition to require a warrant for email snooping (which I heartily agree with), this just makes Google look hypocritical.
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240 comments
 
Btw, the "it was released by accident" excuse doesn't make you look any better, Google. Quite the reverse.

You "accidentally" did something right? How about doing the right thing on purpose...
 
This tool was as a seperate APK available in Play.. I wonder if it's still there..
 
not sure... I would give them the benefit of the doubt. Why would they develop something like otherwise?
 
"We're sorry.  Your post has been deleted from Google+ because it makes us look bad.  We encourage you to never criticize our company lest you have to deal with our hand-picked group of, 'professionals.'  Have a nice day."
 
In my opinion the problem is that a permission override likely would break the app (crash because app expected permission to access something, but suddenly is not granted). This is a nightmare scenario for User eXperience of the whole android platform.

But I agree that we need something to control app permissions on user side.
 
Until Google seriously tries to wipe cyanogenmod off the map they get credit for trying to do the right thing with me. It is their most serious competition on features, IMO. 
 
I wish the anti-google folks would get over themselves. They've had what, 16 years to "turn evil" and it hasn't happened. They've done this sort of thing before because it broke something. They are probably fixing it and we'll have it back. 

That, and the EFF has a nutball crackpot there that hates Google. They've been a fountain of anti-google nonsense lately. They actually singled Google out and blamed them for "not supporting Aaron's Law" despite hundreds of thousands of other companies not doing anything either, and despite the fact that they were instrumental in helping him lead the anti-SOPA charge.

Some people are just easily influenced, and are buying into the expensive Scroogled campaign Microsoft is paying a billion dollars for to manufacture the fantasy that Google is "evil". 
Richard Cohen
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Erm... It was never released. It was a hidden developer interface to a system tool, which was not meant for public use - certainly not end-users. Without corresponding changes elsewhere in the platform, it's liable to randomly break apps in unpredictable ways. The 'accident' was making it more available than it should have been.
Yes, it would be very good to have more control over permissions. This wasn't it, so moaning when it gets hidden properly is just grandstanding by the EFF, unfortunately. 
 
Call me crazy, but I'd rather they finish it than leave it in half baked. The wildly hyperbolic language in the article also hurts its cause more than it helps I would say. 
 
That was a feature that I really liked when I carried a Blackberry. I liked having the ability to restrict apps, even if I knew that I might lose some functionality in them. I primarily used it for new apps that I was not familiar with.
 
+Sid Bradipao
Yeah I was thinking that too but I also think people should be allowed to override what apps are allowed to do or access if they want regardless. If app makers can't rely on accessing what they want to access though I can also see where it could reduce motivation for developing apps on the platform.
Still, I think people should be given ultimate control over what happens on their own devices.
 
They should hide it in developer settings which has to be unlocked anyway. The average person doesn't need access to these permissions, they would cause wreck to their system and it would look bad on Google. Sometimes we need to think of that group of people that don't know anything about this sort of thing. 
 
This is why root is absolutely necessary. The last updates removed a lot of useful functionality (see also battery management). In the end it seems that CyanogenMod will be the only solution.
 
It's easy to get back if you're rooted. Just install the Xposed framework and install the AppOpsXposed module
 
Not for nothing but the real problem where privacy is concerned is the user. Yeah i said it. The apps all have permissions and people need to learn to read those before they cry foul. That flashlight app that was supposedly "lying" to people and "stealing" location data? All of that was in the permissions. People need to hold themselves accountable for their own actions more than what they do. Privacy software wouldn't do any good if no one bothered to read what app does what and thats the real issue. 
 
They (probably) built it to test out how everything works when apps suddenly can't access stuff they're supposed to be able to access.

Personally, I hope this is the writing on the walls, and the permissions system gets a massive rework in Android 5.0
 
They only removed what wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. If you don't like the permissions an app asks for, don't install it. Maybe they'll offer more fine-grained control in the future and maybe they won't, but it has very little to do with spying or the NSA.
Ed Dich
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I dimly remember +CyanogenMod having that a long while ago. Now that it turned into a commercial projecy I'm not sure anymore if such cool features will stay there against google's will...
 
The permissions system really needs to be default-to-off, asking the user for a permission during runtime will only really break immersion like once during the entire lifetime of the app on a device. 
Daniel R.
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+Linus Torvalds We have to keep in mind that this is a hidden feature that was never really "released". Android certainly needs something like that, but that doesn't mean that there are no reasons to withhold this particular piece of software that was never supposed to be accessed by end users.
 
Cool down! 
Released by accident doesn't mean they'll never release a final version. 
 
Do these guys seriously sit down and think no one will notice these things? 
 
I can see two sides to this; it's certainly a desirable and needed feature, but there would be some support issues. I don't know how this works - in particular, if it changes the app manifest would it change back on an update? I can see where that could become a more serious problem due to a false sense of security. I'd vote for the unlock it in developer options and let users who turn it on beware. Of course there are alternatives for those willing to take then anyway; it's really a matter of convenience. 
Translate
 
This is what different "distros" (read: custom ROMs) are for
 
+Linus Torvalds AppOps was unfinished and inaccessible and incomprehensible to the average end user. The software and tricks to get to it were mostly used by advanced users, who are the kind of people who can use Xposed framework and other mods to obtain this functionality. I'm hoping Google will finish it and make it more user-friendly, but I don't believe it's necessarily a bad thing that it was removed. Dev tools are not necessary to be included in the final, published package.
Ian Roy
 
Agreed. Shame on them.
 
+Ezra Brooks Imagine if they made a settings option called, oh, I dunno "Developer Options" and put it under there.  Might not be a bad idea...
 
+Satyr Icon but before they even got to the EULA users would have agreed to the installer permissions which would have been asking access to permissions such as "access your contacts" etc. which are clearly not necessary for the app operation.

If people took notice of these and made sensible decisions about whether allowing the installation of such an app was dangerous or not, then it wouldn't be an issue.
 
I agree that people should be able to lock apps out of certain areas, but we also need to think before we download a flashlight app that requires access to contacts.
 
App Ops is a great way to get bad reviews because someone broke your app and didn't realize it was because of something they did that the developer can't do anything about.

Hopefully something like this will return some day, in a better form that doesn't break apps.
 
As much as it is saddening, AppOps should not be visible to other than power users and for them there are always root to get it. 
 
Praise be for Privacy Guard (though it's not really the same, admittedly).
 
You're right.  The EFF did make Google sound hypocritical.  Now read up on some sources that know what they are talking about and figure out what reality is.  

Yes, geeks like us want this functionality and hopefully we will get something similar to this soon.  Reality is, that this is not good thing for the average consumer.

BTW, we can still have App Ops functionality through AppOps X.  So what's the big deal?  I'm sure you can figure out how to get that app running.
 
+Paul Rodgers It is fine for techies to look through list of permissions. It's not fine for regular person to read a wall of text that explains what this app is doing :( Perhaps a "Trusted, No Personal Info" mark during installation would be easier?
 
Although I agree that it's sad to see this feature disappear entirely, it was not meant for end user as it wasn't ready yet. It let you to define the permissions of the app. But did nothing in the developer-end to handle the exceptions. This lead to making both the users and developers unhappy.

The privacy guard of CM is not AppOps. Coz the former let's you to blocks just the permissions for privacy, and nothing else. As Steve Kondik said, it gave you the opportunity to block access to contacts, phone records and calls, GPS,...
In one shot; not separate. This was received well by users & developers as it was handled in the developer end too.

For e.g., the contact will be listed as empty when privacy guard enabled, whereas the AppOps will break the application when you try to use the camera when end user disabled it.

From the POV of a company, they just scrubbed it ASAP as it may have caused them the market due to pissed off customers and developers.
 
Lets just hope they continue the (internal) work on this feature so we will get it (or parts of it) one day.
 
+Lawrence Brooksher BS. It's not "geeks" that want this functionality. Or rather, it shouldn't be. It should be front and center for normal users.

The fact that google may have done the feature badly is still not much of an excuse to then remove it entirely. 
 
This needs to be better managed than it just appearing. It has the potential to also cripple apps or block ads which power many free applications and provides peoples income. Is that UI global or per app? I think it needs to be communicated to devs first and then rolled out.
 
So here is an opportunity for third party app developers to give users full privacy controls over all their apps installed on their phone!

IOW, an app that gives full control of privacy over all your other apps. Should be doable.

Who cares if the other commercial app developers hate it.
 
+Linus Torvalds  I am kind of in agreement with you on this one.. My main gripe is that I let my kids use my phone, if they install something like a free game (I have paid apps / purchases blocked w/ password), that I don't want it to suck out my contacts, and spam them.. I could make custom roms, or custom apps, but I should not have to.. I think this is really the last place that iOS has an advantage over Android. (now that they removed this 'dev feature')
 
How many times should we point out that it was never released? Seriously. Google is bad for taking away a buggy, not ready feature with poor interface that they never released? Nice logic, really.
 
+Linus Torvalds I agree that something like App Ops needs to be implemented into Android. I'm sure you're right that it's not just geeks that want this functionality (I say "geeks" lovingly). However they do seem to be the most upset about this. I think something like CMs Privacy Guard would be much more fitting for the masses. Of course, a more powerful App Ops option should also be available for power users through some ,not so easy to enable, method.
 
Technically this wasn't a feature...

A couple people figured out how to access an Activity they accidently left exposed.

As much as I liked it, I can't fault them. This was a hack on our end. They had no intention of releasing it yet. The EFF reporter doesn't seem to be looking at the facts.

Developers of apps need some warning before this is officially implemented. User experience is still important. They can't just ignore it. If apps aren't developed to expect this, and crash.. It appears to the average user that Android isn't stable. 

Now should they have disabled the hack we were using? I don't know... But it really was their call to make, and we shouldn't be getting bent out of shape over it.
 
I think the accident was to release a feature which could break other apps. I (want to) believe that we'll see it again after it has been deeper integrated into Android, and therefore not just denying a previously requested permission but properly return a dummy value. (see: OpenPDroid)

Another way to achieve similar functionality is to install XPrivacy as a Xposed module.
 
It's not removed entirely. As +Dianne Hackborn has stated, App Ops is used in several places in the framework. But there is not supposed to be any direct user control over it. Maybe in the future, but not yet.
 
The more I depend on something the more I'm the effect of it.  That's why I like camping in the mountains and eating pancakes.
 
The reaction should have been the opposite: requiring apps to learn to cope with limited rights (which indeed might reduce functionality at times).

For the ad-financed apps, they ought to have added a special, and probably indeed non-revokable, privilege to display them.
 
cm11 has "app ops" feature. Go for it..
 
+Linus Torvalds, I wish you had posted this just a little bit earlier. I did 4.4.2 upgrade, and first notification was this post.
Dammit!
 
I rolled back to 4.3 on my Nexus 7, Kit Kat messed it up too much. Glad I did now.
 
Really now? People arguing Google's case, and even someone claiming Google is not evil? Maybe not when they're paying you?
Surely this week's cookie story demonstrates publicly that Google's entire premise is mass information collection, and sale for profit. Has Google ever even tried to increase awareness among it's customers? Just like banks, their profit mechanism depends on misinforming and deceiving users about the relationship.
In this case, big 'customers' simply picked up the phone and told Google "what is wrong with you? We never even cared what function the app we made had, we just made it as a cover, and wanted to get a piece of the tracking action and make some money off that. How dare you make it possible for people not to make us, and you, money."
Those who say 'it will be back', may be right - immediately after the approved NSA override is included...
Two-faced, greedy hypocrisy. Does anyone really believe the US govt has leverage over Google? Google pretended they gave two monkeys' and left China because they said it was making them do bad things...
So someone explain why Google hasn't simply stood up, rented some trucks and moved it's entire operation over a border to a country that observes basic laws aimed at it's population? Anyone think US government doesn't care about that employment and tax revenue Google generates? Hardly likely.
Google has all the money and all the resources to make de facto decisions and simply present governments with the fait accompli. What exactly could any government do? Go arrest all the executives? Remove the business license from Google? Hello! It's an internet business? The only reason we don't all pay standard global prices for everything is because Google and cronies choose to allow segregation by market. If they wanted to keep operating in the US without a license, they could receive US customers money outside the US. Then what? Does the US govt. block Google servers in the US like the Chinese they so publicly called out for the same thing? Or maybe try put pressure on global DNS or ISP providers? At what point do otherwise intelligent people realize these clowns are distracting attention from the real threat to world freedom and security?

 
I wonder people would be playing a different tone if Microsoft picked this story for their "scroogled" campaign!!
 
+Linus Torvalds
You mean biggest and richest add company would restrict ability to milk more money from adds in the name of greater good? I think the word is "naive" :/
 
Saddening but I have faith that the right thing will be done, eventually.
 
As I always said:
Google: Don't be evil,
just be mad
 
I think the existence of App Ops in the first place points to possible future permission/privacy controls that will benefit users. They are not ready though. Google will not comment on future developments, but App Ops surely exists for a reason. I think we all need to be more patient.
 
+Sid Bradipao Isn’t that just shitty programming ?
A program that crashes because it didn't get a permission is pure crap but most of the time it's on purpose of course.
 
If the feature does not yet work as intended (which I don't think anyone has yet confirmed) it could be dangerous to users who read about how to use it and then think they're safe from spying apps. Perhaps they even install apps they didn't dare to install before and later discover the privacy settings were ineffective...
 
To the idiots claiming Google is evil while presenting no evidence: Grow the hell up. Stop being so easily manipulated by astroturfing firms and demonstrating the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
 
I just see more terrible crap from the EFF release writers and bloggers.    They know no tone over there but accusatory and paranoid and seem to require no evidence to back up any accusation.     I guess that is the 'target market' they've staked out?
 
They never released it in the first place. Eff's article just fails to post an excuse that they didn't do their research first. By the time they posted the first article about AppOps, Google engineer posted on G+ why it was removed.
 
Is EFF an astoturfing firm?  Do you have any of the evidence you speak of, or are you just a word-salad spewing poster child for Dunning-Kruger?
 
Exactly what +Sid Bradipao said if they actually implemented the feature every app that expected the permissions would just crash. Since the first api level you can check your own process to see if you have a specific permission but I don't think every major app would have implemented this because in the past when you wanted a permission you got it.
 
Sounds like Google would needs API for isPermissionEnabled checks.
 
They removed an unofficial feature that wasn't intended to be accessible. What's the problem?
 
Not turning evil is just google PR. They make appearances like everybody else and i dont buy that b.s. about accidental release. Actions speak louder than words.
 
So you're complaining that a feature which wasn't supposed to be released was released and now they removed it? Allow me to cast your minds back to the pre-4.3 days, when this didn't exist. What exactly would you have done then? Also, it's not like it was easy to access, so it's clear it wasn't intended...
 
+Satyr Icon As far as what you posted regarding the Flashlight app - That's bullshit.  It's impossible to even install an APK from the Play Store without accepting any permissions it requires.  No user was able to even access the EULA without first accepting the permissions in the Play Store

+Andrew Caul I agree.  Look at multiuser - it existed in hidden form for one or two Android releases.  In its case, it most specifically did NOT cause apps to crash.   AppOps did.  Causing app crashes is something Google takes VERY seriously.  Think along the lines of +Linus Torvalds numerous rants of "don't break userspace".   AppOps, when enabled via funky hacks, did the Android equivalent of a kernel breaking userspace.
 
 +Linus Torvalds  Maybe I'm just giving Google the benefit of the doubt here, but I'm guessing it is some future feature that was not really ready for release yet.
 
Most people  are usually rooting their phones and applying newer versions of Android than their wireless carriers are distributing. However if newer versions of Android start accidentally removing rights we will see people installing legacy versions of the OS. Deprogress will become a new word in the English language introduced by Google.
 
+Mirosław Baran It wasn't supposed to be there in the first place. It was something that you had to do a rain dance to enable and it wasn't in the regular settings. This is like the equivalent of getting free cable and getting mad when the cable company finds out and turns it off.
Axel H
 
Thanks for sharing
 
Root the phone and add the feature yourself. Problem solved. 
 
Patent issue in the background, maybe.
 
Thanks Linus for posting this. Is bound to get attention from google and hopefully will encourage a commitment to return this feature when stable. 
 
With Cyanogenmod selling out, who is next? 
 
Wow, what a horrible article. Please ease do not share crap like this.

It lies all over the place and makes problems seem huge. Fear mongering like Fox News.

I thought the apple reference was funny.

It was hidden in a secret developer area. Used for testing things. When sites started posting how to access it and normal people started messing with it, they dropped it from there to prevent problems until it was ready.

Holy crap don't share this stupid fully biased article anymore.

Wow
 
Well, you can always move to CyanogenMod with it's privacy guard...
 
I have no idea but was it even release-ready when it "accidentally" made it into a release? 
 
+Ryan Niehaus You should give Google the benefit of the doubt. Every single  time some moron has tried to claim something they did was "evil" it turns out to be nonsense. 

They are hacking wifi! - nope. they were scanning public wifi to give you a FREE GPS REPLACEMENT. Damn ungrateful pricks.

They are stealing books! - nope. They were trying to set up an excerp feature. Ultimately everyone won in the end.

They are hacking Safari with cookies! - Nope. They were using a known workaround to set a cookie so people didn't have to keep logging into Gmail every time. Also eventually cleared in court. 

But every single time, Microsoft paid Astroturfing firms like Consumer Watchdog, Grassroots Enterprises, FOSSpatents, Wagonner Edstrom, Edelman,  Visible Technologies and Federated Media to place fabricated stories on sites like Cnet, TheVerge, The Guardian, readwriteweb, etc. And the idiots believed every word of it. And the sites don't care because the controversy brings pageviews. 

So please. Take your concocted nonsense and your tinfoil hat privacy aliens elsewhere. Those of us in the know can smell a frameup when we see one. Microsoft has been BUSTED paying people to do nothing but cruise forums all day spreading their nonsense. 

http://boycottnovell.com/2007/11/23/astroturfing-microsoft-examples/

http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Consumer_Watchdog

http://techrights.org/wiki/index.php/Microsoft_PR_Agencies

http://techrights.org/2013/06/09/reddit-infiltrated/
 
All this means is that the purpose of custom ROMS and root access is not yet gone.
 
It really is sad.  I now have to go through my firewall and disable networking for apps that have no business there.
It shows that Google cares more about collecting your data than protecting your data.
Matt B
 
+Alex Ohannes how are custom ROMs and root access superfluous in any way ?

you get better speed, smoothness, battery runtime, features, security, RAM, and many more
 
Google wouldn't bring this back. It is too harmful to their add revenue model. They are in the business of selling user data to advertisers. 
 
+Matt B that's what I think too. Strangely enough, there are more and more people that think the days of root being a "necessity" to have an ultimate Android experience are over.
 
But you can still see permissions required by application and if you think its too much just uninstall application. Imagine you remove accesses from some subsystems and application does not work anymore, is it more right behavior?
 
Google's decision of removing AppOps is very not data driven as per what Google used to do. I believe that feature won't come back.

Just label a feature beta and no one will complain if that feature failed. Google can learn how to improve it along those crashes. But now,+Google simply refuse to learn.
 
+Linus Torvalds Why don't you ask some android qa guys if leaving it in was the right idea. I'm sure that would be a nightmare to support when apps haven't been developed to degrade gracefully. By all means keep the feature but update the sdk and guidelines so apps can anticipate such behavior.
 
While to some minuscule point that I agree that some of the people (NSA for example) may need to track the information flow from known radicals, I do firmly believe that for the majority of us law abiding Linux/Android users the point of our privacy is being threatened.

I live in Australia and do an honest days work, I do a considerable amount of my work through remote sessions simply because my home internet connection (NBN fibre to the home) is obviously faster than the standard copper ADSL. BUT I do feel that if the NSA (and others) are monitoring the connections I make are in fact an invasion of privacy for both myself and the companies I am supporting which in itself constitutes a Federal offence. This applies to any operating system, Linux/Android/Winblows/IOS! 

My 2 cents worth!
 
"Don't be evil concept" over time lost the "don't"
 
+Linus Torvalds I totally agree. I'm losing faith in Google with each passing day, and I don't do hypocrites.
 
Ugh. This is the single biggest reason I don't use Android at all right now. I like the OS and devices, and though I prefer iOS, I'd really like to have and use Android devices too (I've done so before).

But not being able to automatically trust apps from the Play Store is presently a deal-breaker for me. Also the private info that Google shares with app developers is also a problem for me, but secondary to this one.
 
+Caesar Wong Most of the problematic apps are "adult" games made by unknown developers with no reviews and they get pulled before a few days. The reason for the Android malware issue is from people enabling app downloads from unnaproved sources and then downloading counterfeit premium apps from shady websites.

You can't fault Google for giving people free will. God made the same decision when he gave us the ability to do many things including hurt ourselves in order for us to be able to be more than robots who obey preprogrammed commands.
 
+Linus Torvalds Never saw so much people wrong and closed in error. Are always whom will denote cowardice and ego towards a company like Apple and their fanboys, although today warned that a failure in one App as OS without noticing the environment around to OS. One example: 'Copy Data via Microsoft and Apple (behind an agreement with the Federal Government which imposed RIM terminate the Agreement with Federal Government). All this constitutes: Coverage of new Act on Telecommunications Systems Federal & working for the NSA. "
However nobody talks about spying or privacy issues, only deal with the error is provided by The method of Trial and Error. Although the most radical & weird lies who exercises the discussion, as it is responsible for encoding the Linux kernel both for different versions of Linux as well as Android.
 
Embarrassingly, it is also one that Apple managed to fix in iOS years ago.
As you say Linus Google now know what they should do.
 
Don't be evil... unless you were only good by accident, then it is okay.
 
Big G, time to show you can implement it right...
 
Here's a question to everyone siding with Google on this. Why aren't Google actively preventing apps from having invasive permissions in the first place?

How hard can it be to check an app prior to inclusion on the play store! Or at the very least have a report app button that users can use to alert of potential misuse.

Also, why don't they ( +Google) insist that ALL apps list exactly what they require whatever permission they require on the +Google Playstore. Let users decide BEFORE installing. Pretty sure if users stopped installing apps due to invasive permissions the devs would soon stop developing apps requesting them!

Could the answer possibly lay in the fact that Google's own apps would fall foul of any permission blocks? 
 
Google's take it or leave it approach to permissions is user-hostile. There is no reason for it, and no reason that it can't be fixed without breaking apps. App not allowed network access? Just tell it the network is offline. No access to contacts? Look at that, the user didn't define any. It isn't like every app doesn't already need to handle these situations. 
 
I think this is also caving to pressure from marketers too lazy or squeamish to do their jobs: make a compelling case to get people to release info to them. 'What we have to ask now!?!'
 
Hmm... Sounds like maybe they should put that option back in...
 
I have CyanogenMod 11 running 4.4.2 and Privacy Guard is still there; you can still make per-app changes to privacy settings. Don't know if they are actually having any effect, but.
olli k
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Selling point for Jolla...
 
right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing.
 
+Manny Brum No, I'm talking about legitimate apps that want to access my contacts, phone number, etc.. On iOS, I can decided not to while still using the app. Things that are totally legitimate from Google's point of view.

I'm not talking about outright malware, which while it does exist on the Play Store, isn't that big of a concern to me as it doesn't take a lot of effort to avoid.

This, however:
"You can't fault Google for giving people free will."

Is rubbish. First off, neither Google nor Apple have any impact on my free will. And Google does police their store and provide restrictions on apps, they just don't do a good job of it.

I'd prefer to use both iOS and Android, but Google's design for app permissions is not something I'm willing to accept. I fully understand that not everyone has the same requirements that I have, but you should also understand that not everyone has the same as you either.

Telling me that I can't fault them is nonsense (of course I can, and I do), and I assume unintentionally worded in that was as you're generally one of the decent guys around here.
 
Google does two things badly. Neither of them are "evil". 

1) They suck at communicating. This is a great example. There's probably a very logical reason why they did this but they are light on details.

And it wouldn't be the first time. Everyone flipped out when people were casting media with Koush's Chromecast app and Google pulled it. "Google is evil!". It was just a substandard experience. Now we have Avia and it's ten times better. Google could have communicated better. But in retrospect, they were being dead honest about why they pulled it. 

2) They suck at delivery. They make promises and don't keep them. They miss deadlines. 

A good example would be Google Music for iOS. "it will take a few weeks" they said. It took six months. 

Again, Not evil. They did eventually deliver, but they were very very late. They need to learn to make commitments with care. That being said, 

They haven't ripped off the entire world with an e-book price fixing scam like another company I could mention. They also haven't bought an East Texas patent trolling firm named Rockstar Consortium like that other company either. That's real evil. 
 
+Caesar Wong What I mean is Apple blocks apps from doing certain functions which is why some apps have different functionality. They're basically making the decision for you. Letting apps talk to each other for instance. On Android there are more permissions because they're leaving it up to the user to judge whether or not an app is worth the permissions.

They do need to have developers list what they use each permission for, however, because a lot of people assume sinister things. It's not always clear what apps would need specific permissions but some of them make a ton of sense once you figure out why.
 
+Manny Brum The reality is we have no idea what Apple is doing. We don't know for sure what they do and don't allow. We also have no idea what they are doing with our privacy data.

I think I prefer Google's approach where they tell you what they are doing.

Apple's model does have a benefit, but ignorance is bliss only if you are ignorant.
 
Don't be evil - don't accidentally be good
 
One thing I like about this article is that it correctly points out that one solution to the broken apps problem is to provide apps with fake data. In fact, some ROMs had this fake data feature and it seemed to work quite well by some accounts.
 
+Manny Brum That's nothing to do with what I'm talking about though. On iOS, I get to decide if an app can access my contacts, photos, location, etc. And if I decline, the app will still work, sans that specific feature.

On Android, I have to accept all permissions just to even install the app.

You're right that most of the time it makes sense, but on iOS, I can download and play any stupid game or app and choose not to let it access my contacts (legitimately used to make friend suggestions), and still play the game or whatever without the slightest concern over my privacy.

And if that game turns out to be trustworthy and fun enough, I can give it permission.

On Android, I don't have that choice. All it takes is one mistaken download (either an app that is a fake version of a real one, or an honest app that takes your info (like the Facebook app used to do)), and bam, privacy is violated.

Honestly, I can't believe you are arguing against security and privacy. And none of the issues I'm talking about have anything to do with the sort of freedoms you're talking about between iOS and Android. They are about the freedoms between me and the app developer.

Freedoms which should belong to me, freedoms which Apple provides and Google denies. Freedoms which presently keep me from using Android, even though I like the system itself.
 
We need another alternative to Android because of Google's lip-service posture to their customer's privacy and iOS because of their regime-like death grip over various other matters.
 
+Caesar Wong, I know not enough about iOS itself, but if that fine-grained control is true, I commend Apple for it. Sadly, I also detest Apple for their litigious attitude, and refuse to buy into Apple's tight controls. Seems that there is simply no one winner, it's all about compromises. :-P
 
A generic and in most cases baffling description of an app permission is the wrong way to go about it. It presupposes the user actually has the faintest idea what it means. Not all android users are tech savvy and it is a very shortsighted and arrogant move to think that in this day and age of spying it won't have a detrimental effect on sales(current/future) and continued adoption. Android is popular at the moment, but as soon as a secure OS hits how many will drop it? I know I will. The current system is also wrong in 2 more ways.

1, it is only giving a basic explanation of what that permission is allowing the app to do. It passes the buck and allows +Google to wipe their hands of any wrong doing. Allowing them to simply say "You wanted open source, that means you take the responsibility for any loss arising from apps installed from our store!"

2, it simply fails to address why the app needs that permission in the first place!

I'm considered tech savvy and even I cannot for the life of me understand why some apps require certain permissions. An email to the Dev usually suffices, but that shouldn't be the course of action for users. Why is something so simple to understand being overlooked? 
 
I use 3rd party apps to do this already. Didn't even know this was built into the OS.
 
+Udo Schuermann Exactly my point, there's different opinions and people look at the same things differently.

I won't get into it (for two reasons, the first is that it's way off topic, the second is I don't feel the need to convince people to agree with my opinions), but I disagree on the topic of litigiousness and the tight controls.

And I refuse to use an OS and app ecosystem that I can't trust.

But you (and others) might (and often do) see it differently, even 180º different from me.

Which is perfectly cool. I'll take choice and variety any day.
 
Using its popularity in a wrong way and trying to give excuses over their cheating? I still wonder how many other big companies are involved in this? This is certainly sad.
All I say at this moment... I know, world's a bitch!
 
This was removed in KitKat from the getgo, not just in 4.4.2. Luckily purity put it in their custom KitKat ROM. I used app ops for all kinds of stuff, both for privacy/ security and for saving battery life. Google sucks for removing it. +Fred Dresken the apps from the play store just acted as a shortcut to app ops. They will not work as app ops no longer exists outside of the custom ROM scene.
 
I'm running a Nexus 5 with the latest software (just updated yesterday) and I can run App Ops Launcher (which I installed today). Does it just appear to run/work but yet it doesn't actually do anything? Or should it be displaying errors?
 
'sad' isnt going to cut it Linus, do something about it will ya chief!
 
Hey does anybody remember, when computers were dumb, & real people were smart? Trust not the corpocracy. trust in community!
Xi Shen
 
Lucky CM users, we have Privacy Guard :D
 
+tomii wu you are so far gone down your own road. There's no point in calling you back.
 
Don't install apps with weird permissions. 
 
+Han Honso But that would require thinking and responsibility. Isn't it easier to just pretend there's a real problem and blame Google for it?
 
We need this to become a petition. +Vic Gundotra Please, do something! As an enthusiast I demand this to be fixed and implemented once and for all. Until this is fixed, I wont do the free advertisement I used to. You lost me as a media outlet, as someone that teaches people the benefits of Android. Give me control, I give you some users.
 
why is anyone surprised??? seriously why?
 
"look hypocritical" +Linus Torvalds How about straight up hypocritical. Did you lose some of your man parts after the Nvidia episode? 😃
 
I love how people think Google is evil, while they are nowhere close to as evil as Apple. 
 
> The fact that google may have done the feature badly is still not much of an excuse to then remove it entirely. 

+Linus Torvalds I imagine you have sometimes merged things, then decided to pull them back out because they weren't ready. People who wanted the feature may have complained a lot, but that doesn't mean you were wrong to pull it.
 
+Martin Pool Especially considering Google has a track record of pulling things. 

But no. Lets invent some wild conspiracy theory and invent evil like we are a bunch of friggin superstitious morons. 
 
Definitely +1 about a hundred times over. People should be in an uproar.

In fact, I would say that if an app breaks because you deny it some
permission then maybe you don't want the app anyway. You would still have
the option to restore permission anyway.

And if breaking the app means it crashes and burns, then it was not well
designed in the first place.
 
Glad to see you speaking up on this +Linus Torvalds . For the time being, I would recommend to Root your device and put pdroid on it.
 
I feel sorry to the dev who accidentally release this
 
As with most companies, the larger they get the worse they get.

Of course, that's usually when there is money involved.
 
why?that was a great feature.
 
CyanogenMod seems to keep it in their branch of 4.4.2.
 
Its not a feature if it requires a hack to activate.
 
This is good, actually. This motivates and drives us forward to develop the open alternatives to Google's malpraxis. This motivates me in striving more to bring a true GNU/Linux OS on my tablet.
This motivates me to be even more careful at each line of code and should motivate us all.
I'm sick of "apps". I want real programs. Efficient and written in real, platform dependent, open programming languages.

 
Just it's the time to introduce Debian or other Linux system for ARM to smartphones. Nokia's Maemo was a good example.
 
App ops gives the ability to block/ remove ads. Pretty dopy for a business based on ads. So... removing it is just a logical step. Still not nice.
 
+Lawrence Brooksher we are talking about android. so there already is a way to take care of your privacy. Check out the Xposed Framework on XDA developers and install the xPrivacy module. It's powerful, free and more or less for "power users", since you need your device rooted. There are even ways to transmit fake data to apps, that they don't crash when they require certain data, e.g. zeroed gps coordinates... Pretty cool.
 
Giving me yet another reason to de-Googlify my life!
 
some nice points.  i don't think we are on the right objective here.  google should make a public communication for the intent and make recommendations for any remediation by users for their data.
 
Has it occurred to some of you that this half baked feature could break your Anti virus app...
 
Who cares, i have the same in my huawei ui (;
 
'Evil, just do it' seems conveniently
 
+Jarosław Rauza Take a look at Sailfish OS, FirefoxOS, Tizen, Nemo or Ubuntu on mobile. There's plenty to choose from.
 
Public outrage and do-goodery stops the moment the bottom line is directly impacted. #notsurprising
 
I wouldn't criticize them for removing access to this tool as much as others.  If it really was not ready for prime-time, then that's that.  But I would criticize them for taking so long to deliver something like it.
 
Google is always hypocritical as a company
 
Hypocritical??? Google was NEVER Concerned with your privacy.  Your privacy interferes with the monetization of every aspect of your life and their marketing strategies.
 
Was it by accident or was someone in Google actually trying to not be evil until they got caught? 
 
Could it be that they are trying to work the bugs out and stop apps from crashing before release before they make the platform seem like it's unstable and therefor not good maybe? Custom ROM's have been including that for a long while and it breaks a lot of apps. After using that feature, I think that Google should give that a real test before they actually release that or there will be a lot of people that blame the OS for what they would have caused by setting that and blaming the platform. Devs will need to update apps or it will need a bypass of some sort, or apps will just force quit a LOT. I support that application, and want it, but I think it needs to be stable first.
Roman V
 
CyanogenMod had a feature like this some time ago and apps did indeed crash, because they were expecting to be able to do something and were denied, and there was no sense of exceptions. The better way to handle it is what it's progress for CyanogenMod now, which is if the app requests contact list return an empty one. If the app requests GPS coordinates return something useless.
 
Yes, and they have yet to finish it. It could work that simple yes, but if it were as easy at that with no problems, cyanogenmod would have done it by now. There must be other reasons behind it that both teams are having trouble with. Besides, you can't blame the platform for not being able to deny privs that a user AGREES TO when they install that app (assuming it's not a system app, but you can disable those now, so that point is also moot)
 
Mmm, Google are you that wicked?

Even Apple's iPhone has this feature. If you care about us why would you do this?

We the users want this and we the users should have this.

Back to CyanogenMod then? 
 
Well - that was my initial reaction as well: How can I now reduce the rights various programs has. This is simply bad.

But in reality I think it's not that simple. We should not use programs that requires too many rights in the first place! Suppose you have two simple flashlight programs: A basic one that just requires access to your camera (light), and a super advanced program that also requires access to your contact list, unlimited internet access etc. Which program should you use and promote?

To me, the real question is not as much hos we enable these functions for superusers like us, but how to avoid plain users from installing spyware in the first place. Features like this does not help the vast majority of users.
 
Their line is it's not 'ready' so if it's genuinely not 'ready' it could cause more harm than help. And we know how vocal people are when the slightest thing doesn't work.
They never said it's not going to come out ever. So there's to hoping.
In the mean time I'm enjoying this instead of updating my s3 to 4.4.2 :)
 
The real blunder is never designing "apps don't get all permissions they'd like to have" into the system (like Apple apparently did), prescribing that they must cope with being prevented from doing certain things. Oh, and not keeping "all areas" network access and ads apart. The rest is just a follow-up error.
 
What is even sadder is the vitriol expressed by those who value corporation wars i.e. MS v. Google over personal privacy. 
 
+Scott Wilson The 'bitching' is not that there's no other way, it's that there was one that should've been installed by default but that's being axed (for now)
 
+Nicolas Desveaux The hooks are there still. Go install one of the 20 on the play store. Assume it will be back since you don't even have to use Google's to accomplish the same damn thing. Seriously. All this complaining over a NON ISSUE is ridiculous. 
Cri Ort
 

carlos slim not treacherous dictator pork for better androidhay to eliminate slim please
 
+James Manes Who then? What is it with this need to fabricate bullshit to defend shaky positions? Whether Google wrote the tool, or someone else wrote one that does the same damn thing, is it that important to you to keep arguing your pointless position? With either tool, and whether you are on iOS or Windows Phone, they all work the exact same way and do the exact same things and have the same toggles. It sounds like you just REALLY want to imagine up some reason to hate on Android.
 
I agree on the hypocrisy part, but if some shitty wallpaper app requires access to my contacts list for example, I wouldn't install it even with App Ops available. But maybe that's just me.
Topi S
 
Jolla, here I come
 
Even Apple can get this part right, why can't Google?
 
+Graham McMillan You must have missed the part where Google did get it right. You can go download 20 apps that do this now. 
 
if an app wants those perms, dont install it. also it wasnt vital since it was in dev options
 
I think it shouldn't be there because it allows users to disable network access for some apps which also disable ads and income for the developer. If Google keeps it there, there would be no ad-supported apps in the play store. 
 
thats exactly what the android is missing with its suspect app market, just about every app steals most your data
 
+Matthew Dannevik, Not necessarily. There's no proof of that. Most of the permissions like network access are there so they can display ads
 
Has anyone ever heard of MIUI ROMs. They have built-in permission managemnt since years back. 
 
Its crazy how many people are on here talking about this but I bet if we all collectively worked to make the hardware and put together the source for the os then we could just make phones and systems and say forget the big guys. If people like us in the community just worked together we wouldn't need Apple or Google. If we just did it ourselves instead of taking about it then none of this would matter cause we would just make open hand held systems.
 
I mean we have the power and the means, it's only us standing in the way of ourselves and just getting on Google+ talking about how evil it could be doesn't do anything, you're neither good or bad, you're just how they want you if they even want you anywhere in the first place.
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