Google will restrict which apps can see the list of other apps installed on your phone.The software giant appears to have made some changes to the Developer Program Policy.
Accordingly, most apps will now be harder to see what other apps are installed on your device. Google considers the full list of apps as sensitive information on a user’s device. Therefore, which applications can access this information will be limited.
According to XDA Developers, Google will do this by restricting which applications can request the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission, which is currently required for applications targeting API level 30 on Android 11 and later. The use of the QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES permission will only be allowed when the core function of the application depends on querying installed applications. In this sense, it is stated that the developers will need to “justify enough why a less intrusive application visibility method cannot adequately activate the basic user-facing function of the application in line with the policy”.
Google underlines that the permitted use will include apps that need to discover all apps installed on the device for awareness or interoperability. Permitted use is device search, antivirus apps, file managers, and browsers.
Those who do not meet the requirements will need to remove consent from the developer’s statements to comply with the Google Play Policy. Also, even if it meets the requirements, the app developer needs to submit a declaration form on the Play Console.
The new change will take effect as of May 5th. Additionally, as of November 2021, all new apps and app updates submitted to Google Play must target Android 11 or higher.