Android apps that want background location data will need Google Play approval – CNET

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James Martin/CNET

Android app developers will soon need approval from the Google Play team before accessing a user’s location data in the background, according to an Android Developers Blog post Wednesday. In determining approval, the new Google Play policy will consider whether the app’s feature delivers clear value to the user, if the feature is important to the primary purpose of the app, and if users would expect the app to access their location in the background, the post said. 

All apps will be evaluated against the same criteria — including apps made by Google

“When we spoke to developers for feedback, the vast majority understood user concerns over their information falling into the wrong hands and were willing to change their location usage to be safer and more transparent,” according to the post. 

The policy will go into effect in April, but before that, developers can submit their use case via the Play Console to get feedback on whether or not it will be allowed under the new rules. By August, all new apps that access background location data submitted to Google Play will need to be approved. By November, all existing apps that do so will too, or face removal from Google Play. 

It should be noted that newer versions of Android (including the upcoming Android 11) already let users limit when apps can use their location within Settings. This new review process is aimed at helping those still using older versions of Android — which, unlike with Apple’s iOS, is the majority of people, as software updates aren’t rolled out consistently across Android phones

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