You can install any free or premium apps on your Android phone from Google Play store. Most of the apps you install need permissions to use various features of your phone. Such permissions include accessing camera, contacts, microphone, location, etc. For example, a video conferencing app needs access to your camera and microphone to work properly. It’s a good idea to review the permissions and understand what features the apps are accessing in your phone.
App Permission Behavior in Android
It helps if you keep an eye on the apps’ permissions on your mobile phone for maximum security. The latest version of Android 12 has implemented new security features to manage permissions. You can see a visual representation every time your phone uses the microphone, camera, location, etc.
- Whenever an app accesses the microphone or camera of your phone, a green icon will appear in the upper area of your screen for a moment to alert you. Then a green dot will remain in the upper right corner of the screen as long as the sensor is in use.
- Similarly, a location icon will appear in the upper screen if an app uses your phone’s location feature.
Once you install an app and run it for the first time, it will ask for permissions like camera, microphone, etc. The above stuffs help to understand if any app is currently using the phone’s feature. However, over period you might easily forgot the permissions provided to the installed apps. Therefore, it is also necessary to check the permissions and revert them if required.
Access App permissions on Android
If you want to access app permissions related to the camera or microphone, then when you see the green dot in the upper right corner of your screen, check what app you are using. To find the app, which uses the microphone or camera of your phone, slide down your finger from the top of the screen when a green dot is in the upper part of the screen. You will see the green icon, either a microphone or camera icon. Tapping the icon will display the app’s name, like “Being used by app_name,” where the app’s name will appear at the end. If there is an arrow next to the text, clicking it will open all the relevant app permissions.
If you want to access the permissions for any app, get the list of all the apps by going to “Settings > Apps”. Tap any app to open its “App info” page. Select “Permissions” to open the app’s permissions. For example, below is an example showing the permissions granted for WhatsApp app.
Manage App Permission on Android
The app permissions page is divided into three main sections: Allowed, Not allowed, and Unused apps. In the allowed section, the given permissions for that app are listed like Camera, Files, and media, Location and Microphone, etc. It means the app has access to these items on your phone. To know more about the access for each category, tap the class like the camera. The following screen will open the Camera permission page, which lists the following three or four options.
- Allow all the time: It is only available for location permission. If this option is enabled, the app will have permission to use location even when you are not using the app. You won’t see this option for any other permission.
- Allow only while using the app: With this permission, the app will get access automatically whenever the app is in use.
- Ask every time: If this option is active, Android will ask you to give permission every time the app is used. It cannot be enjoyable for an app that you use frequently.
- Don’t allow: If you activate this option, the app will not get access to this Android phone feature. Choose this option carefully because some apps might not function properly if they don’t have access to that feature. For example, a scanning app will not work if it does not have access to the camera.
There is a link “See all apps with this permission” near the bottom of the page. If you tap this link, the next page will display all your phone apps with the information on whether they have access to that feature or not. You can check the list and touch the app to see and change its status.
Once you are happy with the settings, go back to the app permissions page. The section “Not allowed” presents the feature which is not available to that app which might be “Call logs,” “Phone,” “SMS,” etc. The third feature, “Unused apps,” will automatically remove permissions if you are not using app for few months. The permissions removed includes – Camera, Contacts, Files and media, Location, Microphone, and Nearby devices.
Completely Disable Camera and Microphone on Android 12
If you are unsure which app is accessing your phone’s camera or microphone, you can temporarily disable the camera and microphone of your phone. Remember, once you disable the camera or microphone, you won’t be able to use the camera or microphone, not even through the Android itself.
- Open quick access settings by swiping two fingers together from the top of the screen.
- Find the settings menu, and then “Privacy,” and select it.
- The privacy page will display a lot of options. Find the “Camera access” and “Microphone access” and turn them off.
Anytime later, you can enable camera and microphone access from the privacy page.
Manage Special App Access
Sometimes, you may need to manage permissions for apps beyond standard permissions like “Display over other apps,” “Modify system settings,” etc. Go to “Settings > Apps > Special app access” to manage the settings. Special app access will show you the types of accesses. Tap the desired item, for example, “Display over other apps,” and a list of apps with the status either “Not allowed” or “Allowed” will populate on the screen. Here, you can change the status by tapping on the app. Though this feature is available in Android, such types of permissions are rarely used.
Permission Manager – Fast Permissions Management of Multiple Apps
So far, you can manage permissions for individual apps. If you want to quickly manage permissions of multiple apps, use Permission Manager for this task. Go to “Settings > Privacy > Permission Manager”. On the main page of Permission Manager, the list of permissions like “Body sensors,” “Calendar,” “Camera,” etc., is given along with the number of apps allowed to have access.
Tap on the desired category like “Call logs” to see the apps that have access and those that don’t have that access. You can quickly tap on an app with access and change its status.
Privacy Dashboard – Manage App Access of Location, Camera and Microphone
Most Android users are primarily concerned about apps using phone’s location, camera, and microphone. Android has introduced the privacy dashboard, which displays the timeline of the apps that have used your phone’s location, camera, or microphone within 24 hours. Go to “Settings > Privacy > Privacy dashboard” to access the privacy dashboard. You can see how many apps used the feature for each category on the main page.
To know the precise times when a particular app accessed the relevant feature, tap on the desired option like “Location.” The following page will show a timeline of the accesses along with the app’s name. You can tap on the “Manage permission” button on the screen which will take you to the respective permission page to manage the access.