With Android Q, Google is focusing on privacy and battery optimizations. The new OS version makes location permissions more granular and allows us to grant them only when interested apps are in use. Contrary to this new-found privacy focus, the latest beta switches all apps that you've previously granted location access "only while in use" to "allowed all the time." Luckily, it also addresses this issue by sending you a notification whenever an app asks for your location in the background.

Cassidy James first noticed the new notification feature and posted about it on Twitter, wondering how Instagram got the permission in the first place. In the subsequent thread, another person noted that updating to Beta 5 grants full location access to all apps that previously had "only while in use" enabled. We can in fact confirm that this is the case for a lot of apps, although notably, Google's own apps remained in the correct category — so you might want to verify your location permissions if you've updated to this build. Mind you, this is actually intended by Google to test upgrade behavior:

 Apps with a location permission enabled in Android Pie will receive the 'all-the-time' location permission on upgrading to Q. To test the upgrade behavior, apps which had any location permission in Beta 4 or lower will also be granted the 'all-the-time' location permission when the device is upgraded to Beta 5. Users may get the location reminder notification if these apps access their location in the background.

Thus, the new background location alert already works as intended. If you haven't noticed that an app gets location in the background, you can act quickly after receiving the notification and don't end up wondering where all your battery life went. And as to granting apps full location access without asking users first, well, it's a beta, after all.

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  • Armando