Google will extend Permission Auto-Reset feature to older Android versions
Image: Denny Müller
Catalin Cimpanu September 17, 2021

Google will extend Permission Auto-Reset feature to older Android versions

Google will extend Permission Auto-Reset feature to older Android versions

Google announced plans today to port its Permission Auto-Reset feature from Android 11 to older versions of its mobile operating system, as far back as Android 6.

Launched last fall, the Permission Auto-Reset feature works by automatically withdrawing user permissions from an app that hasn’t been opened and used for a few months.

“Starting in December 2021, we are expanding this [feature] to billions more devices,” Google said today.

“This feature will automatically be enabled on devices with Google Play services that are running Android 6.0 (API level 23) or higher.”

Exempt from this new feature will be device admin apps and enterprise apps where the permissions have been fixed through a general enterprise policy.

Once enabled, the Permission Auto-Reset feature will protect users’ privacy by preventing apps a user might have forgotten they installed from constantly collecting data about the user and their behavior.

As Charmaine D’Silva, senior product manager on Android privacy, said last year, when the feature was launched, the OS will notify users once permissions are reset for an app.

Launch Timeline:

  • September 15, 2021 – The cross-platform auto-reset APIs are now in beta (Jetpack Core 1.7.0 beta library), so developers can start using these APIs today. Their use is safe even on devices that don’t support permission auto-reset (the API will return FEATURE_NOT_AVAILABLE on these devices).
  • October 2021 – The cross-platform auto-reset APIs become available as stable APIs (Jetpack Core 1.7.0).
  • December 2021 – The permission auto-reset feature will begin a gradual rollout across devices powered by Google Play Services that run a version between Android 6.0 and Android 10. On these devices, users can now go to the auto-reset settings page and enable/disable auto-reset for specific apps. The system will start to automatically reset the permissions of unused apps a few weeks after the feature launches on a device. 
  • Q1 2022 – The permission auto-reset feature will reach all devices running a version between Android 6.0 and Android 10. 

Catalin Cimpanu is a cybersecurity reporter for The Record. He previously worked at ZDNet and Bleeping Computer, where he became a well-known name in the industry for his constant scoops on new vulnerabilities, cyberattacks, and law enforcement actions against hackers.