The latest version of the Play Store hit the scene a little over a week ago and introduced a tweak to the way permissions are displayed at install time, and it left some people feeling a little...uncertain. Gone is the ugly wall of poorly spaced, semi-specific permissions. The replacement is a short set of simplified categories, each with crisp-looking icons and buttons that reveal a brief description when tapped. Google filtered through roughly 145 permissions and narrowed them down to a dozen groups, plus one bucket for anything that remains.
Remember the most recent Google Play Android client update? One of the features in that one was a new way of viewing permissions. As of that version there's a link to open the list instead of only being able to see it from the installation dialog. Well, now the web Play Store has pretty much the same thing. It's called consistency.
There should be no doubt, Google is getting ready to make a lot of announcements at I/O. If we've learned anything from past experiences, Google starts packing its apps full of surprises in the weeks leading up to the big show. The latest update to Play Services started rolling out yesterday and it has grown by a whopping 4 MB, almost 30% larger than the previous version. There's obviously a lot of stuff to look at, so let's just jump right in.
The latest version of Google Search rolled out yesterday with a couple of pretty great new features. We already know that 3.4 offers a new parking reminder, mall directories, and the start of voice commands for system settings. But there are still a few secrets worth exploring, so let's get to it!
See Your Friend's Photos
The content of Google Now tends to focus heavily on your current or future location, and as a close second, it tries to be helpful with reminders about TV shows and events.
App Ops showed up in Android 4.3 and made it possible to revoke permissions on a per-app basis. It wasn't exposed in the main system settings, but it was easy to access. Then Android 4.4 made it quite a bit harder to get to, and now it appears to be completely missing in 4.4.2. What gives? Well, Android engineer Dianne Hackborn has indicated App Ops was never meant to be a user-facing feature in the first place.
The Android faithful have been eagerly awaiting the release of Contra: Evolution, but there were some irksome issues when the game finally launched last week. You could only install it on phones, and when you did, the list of permissions was a little bonkers. Well, both of those points have been addressed in a new update.
Contra: Evolution can now be installed on virtually any Android device. It was a little bizarre that it didn't allow tablet installations seeing as a number of the phones it supported were higher resolution than some tablets.
Android 4.3 has a hidden feature! It's called "App Ops" and it lets you selectively disable some permissions for your apps. Is some misbehaving app constantly pinging your location and draining your battery in a few hours? You can fix that now.
I'm working on my full 4.3 teardown, but I just ran across this and had to add it here:
<string name="grant_confirm_question">Do you want to grant the following permissions?
Have you ever refused to install an app because it wants too many permissions? Yeah, a lot of people have, and we don't blame them. A little too much trust can lead to stolen information, mysterious charges on your cellular bill, or worse. Thanks to developer M66B, we've got a simple way to lock down potentially misbehaving software. His new mod, XPrivacy, can block several types of activities and queries, despite the permissions granted at installation.
It's been over four months since Google officially announced Android 4.2 and slightly less time since the initial round of new Nexus devices running it went up for order. Much like the gunshot that kicks off the 100-meter tortoise race, that launch signaled the silent contest to see which manufacturer could get out a non-Nexus update first. Today, we have our winner: ASUS, with a shiny new version of Jelly Bean for the Transformer Pad (TF300T).