All Google App Permissions Explained (Android)


All Android devices have a bunch of Google apps pre-installed that require a set of permissions to be granted. Have you ever checked the list of Google app permissions? Below, we’ll explain all Google app permissions so that you have a clear understanding of them. If you are concerned about your privacy, you should try to revoke those unnecessary Google account permission for the 3rd-party apps installed on your phone at least.

Google started out as a search engine and it is still their core business. All the other products and services Google offers extend the capabilities of Google search as well. So when you see the Google app on your phone you’d be forgiven to think it’s there to only help you search. The app does quite a lot more in integration with other Google apps such as the calendar, Gmail, etc. It’s also the home of the Google Assistant, which does things like making calls, reading messages, etc. All of this means the Google app permissions list is pretty long.

Many of us just dismiss the Google app in a folder or the app drawer, never to be opened because the Google widget is already on the screen. But it is one of the worst apps for those concerned with their privacy.  You can deny the app some of these permissions at the risk of breaking some of the functionality.

Manage Google App Permissions on Android

Android 10 has been released and one of the biggest changes it brings is giving the user more control over their privacy. As a by-product of that effort, Android 10 has also changed how app permissions are allowed, making the process much easier and seamless. To manage permissions for any app, go to Settings > Apps & notifications and tap on SEE ALL APPS. Then scroll down to that app, which in this case is Google. Tap on it.

On the next page, you can see a list of the Google app permissions you can manage. To allow or deny any of these permissions, tap on it. To see all the permissions requested by the app including the ones you can’t actually deny, tap on the three-dot overflow menu button in the top-right and select All permissions.

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Google App Permissions Explained

Below is a list of all the Google app permissions along with an explanation of what each permission exactly means.

Use fingerprint hardware

android.pernnission.USE_FINGERPRINT

Allows the app to use fingerprint hardware for authentication.

Read your contacts

android.permission.READ_CONTACTS

Allows the app to read data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed or communicated in other ways with specific individuals. This permission allows the app to save your contact data. Malicious apps may share contact data without your knowledge.

Modify your contacts

android.pernnission.WRITE_CONTACTS

Allows the app to modify the data about your contacts stored on your phone, including the frequency with which you’ve called, emailed or communicated in other ways with specific contacts. This permission allows apps to delete contact data.

Read the contents of your shared storage

android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE

Allows the app to read the contents of your shared storage.

Google App Location Permissions

Access approximate location (network-based) only
in the foreground

android.permission.ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION

This app can get your location based on network sources such as phone masts and Wi-Fi networks, but only when the app is in the foreground. These location services must be turned on and available on your phone for the app to be able to use them.

Access precise location only in the foreground

android.permission.ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION

This app can get your exact location only when it is in the foreground. These location services must be turned on and available on your phone for the app to be able to use them. This may increase battery consumption.

Access location in the background

android.permission.ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION

If this is granted additionally to the approximate or precise location access, the app can access the location while running in the background.

Directly call phone numbers

Android. permission.CALL_PHONE

Allows the app to call phone numbers without your intervention. This may result in unexpected charges or calls. Note that this doesn’t allow the app to call emergency numbers. Malicious apps may cost you money by making calls without your confirmation.

Find accounts on the device

android.permission.GET_ACCOUNTS

Allows the app to get the list of accounts known by the phone. This may include any accounts created by applications that you have installed.

Read calendar events and details

android.permission.READ_CALENDAR

This permission allows the Google app to read all calendar events stored on your phone and share or save your calendar data.

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Read call log

android.permission.READ_CALL_LOG

This app can read your call history.

Read your text messages (SMS or MMS)

android.permission.READ_SMS

This app can read all SMS (text) messages stored on your phone.

Read phone status and identity

android.permission.READ_PHONE_STATE

Allows the app to access the phone features of the device. This permission allows the app to determine the phone number and device IDs, whether a call is active and the remote number connected by a call.

Record audio

android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO

This permission allows the Google app to record audio using the microphone at any time.

Send and view SMS messages

android.perniission.SEND_SMS

Allows the app to send SMS messages. This may result in unexpected charges. Malicious apps may cost you money by sending messages without your confirmation.

Add or modify calendar events and send emails to guests without owners’ knowledge

android.permission.WRITE_CALENDAR

This permission allows the Google app to add, remove or change calendar events on your phone. This app can send messages that may appear to come from calendar owners or change events without notifying their owners.

Modify or delete the contents of your shared storage

android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE

Allows the app to write the contents of your shared storage.

Take pictures and videos

android.permission.CAMERA

This app can take pictures and record videos using the camera at any time.

Answer phone calls

android.permission.ANSWER_PHONE_CALLS

Allows the app to answer an incoming phone call.

Recognize physical activity

android.permission.ACTIVITY_RECOGNITION

This app can recognize your physical activity.

Other Google App Permissions

Apart from that, there are still plenty more permissions that the app has mostly with self-explanatory titles such as to receive data from Internet, have full network access, view Wi-Fi connections, access Do Not Disturb, Access Bluetooth settings, run at startup, prevent the phone from sleeping, etc.

Do keep in mind though that a lot of these privacy infringing app permissions aren’t really related to the search component of the app. These are for the Google Assistant. So if you don’t use the Assistant, you can safely disable many of these. For instance, by denying the app permission to access contacts, you can deny it from reading and modifying your contacts.

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