App Permissions In Android Marshmallow

If your phone has already updated to Android Marshmallow 6.0 (mine finally has), you probably noticed one of the biggest changes in this version, i.e.  the way app permissions are handled.

Android users used to complain about how this worked in older versions of Android (all versions below Android "M") and now everyone seems to be happy with how it's changed.

In this tutorial, which also starts a series of tutorials about Android Marshmallow),  you will learn everything you need to know about Android Marshmallow app permissions, how they changed and how you should manage them from now on.

Let's begin!

No Need To Grant All The Permissions At Once Any More

You probably remember that in Android versions below Android 6.0 you had to either accept or decline all of the app permissions upon installation.

When you hit INSTALL button, the app at first showed you all of its permissions and asked you to either accept them or not to install the app.

In the case of some apps (e.g. Facebook app or Facebook Messenger) the issue of app permissions became even a bit controversial. People were asking why this and that app need such a big number of permission (e.g. access to messages, camera, microphone and what not). Tons of conspiracy theories grew around why certain apps ask for certain permissions and what they really do with the data they collect.

Since Android Marshmallow, which introduces a different app permission model, the problem has been gone. Entirely. Let's see how it is now in my Sony Xperia Z5 with Android 6.0.

New Model Of App Permissions In Android Marshmallow

So how do you manage app permissions in  Android Marshmallow and how Google tackled this issue? In a very simple and intuitive way.

Google introduced a new granual app permission model. The way it works is really very simple and this is how it is.

  • INSTALLATION. You go to the Google Play (or alternative app store if you have one) and choose the app you want to install. When you click INSTALL, the app will simply download and install.
SwiftKey is the app already optimized for Android 6.0 so if you click INSTALL it will simply install without asking you for any permissions.
This app hasn't been optimized for Android "M" so it asks for all the permissions before installation.

If it's an older app (which hasn't been optimized for Android Marshmallow yet), it will ask you for granting all permissions upon installation (just like it works in older versions of Android).

Fortunately, all of the most controversial apps like Facebook app or Facebook Messenger have already been optimized for Android 6.0 and use the new app permission model.

  • GRANTING PERMISSIONS WHEN NEEDED.  You won't be asked for any permission until you start to use the app and it really needs access to something. For example, the Facebook Messenger heads won't appear on your screen unless you permit drawing over other apps.
I was asked to permit drawing over other apps because I wanted to turn chat heads in Facebook Messenger for the first time.

The same applies to any permission the app may need. If you want to send a photo via your SMS app for the first time, it will ask you for access for your media gallery.

In my SMS app I wanted to send an MMS for the first time so I had to give this app access to Media.
  • DECLINING BUT STILL USING THE APP. What the new app permission model gives you, above all, is greater awareness of how apps work and what for they need these permissions. If you don't want to give some permission, you can simply decline it and the app will still work (you won't have to uninstall it) but won't have this specific feature working.

The most important piece of advice here is to decline and grant permissions cautiously because Android will remember your choice unless you manually change it again. If you decline some permission (e.g. access to the media gallery in Messenger) by accident, you may think that the app is corrupt or broken while it fact it simply does what you instructed it to do.

How To Manage App Permissions In Android Marshmallow

Fortunately, even if you make a wrong choice (to either decline or accept some permission), you can come back to these settings and manage them once again. Here is how you do it.

  • Go to Settings > Apps and click on the configuration icon in the top right corner.
  • You will now see the more advanced features. Click on App permissions to view and manage permissions for specific apps. As you can see the permissions have been nicely grouped into different categories like Body SensorsCalendar, CameraContacts and so on.
  • Click on the category to see what apps have this permission. As you can see, you can easily turn on and off specific permissions for specific apps.

Note that in the examples above Android Auto doesn't have these permissions. That is because I installed this app after upgrading to Android Marshmallow and haven't used that app yet. All of the older apps for which you granted permissions upon their installation will appear here as allowed. What it means is that you have to manually withdraw permissions you gave to the apps installed before updating your phone to Android "M". 

  • When browsing specific groups of permissions, you can either hide or show system apps. By default system apps are hidden because if you don't know what you are doing, you may cause the whole OS to malfunction or crash. To either show or hide system apps you need to click on the three dots in the upper right corner.

If you want to browse and manage permissions of specific apps (instead of groups of permissions), you have to go to Settings > Apps, click on the app of your choice and on Permissions. You will now see groups of permissions this app needs.

If you want to go into more detail and see the specific permissions (not categories of permissions), click on the three dots in the right upper corner and click on All permissions. You will now be able to view all the specific permissions. If you click on one, its more detailed description will pop up.

Unfortunately, you cannot in this place deny or allow one specific permission but only its group like Phone or Storage.

If you are interested in learning a lot more about this topic, I suggest you read what Google has to say about app permissions in Android Marshmallow.

I think I have pretty much exhaused the topic of app permissions in Android Marshmallow. However, if you have any problems or questions, feel free to post me your comments in the comment box below. As always I would love to hear from you! :)

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