Your old Android phone is getting better about keeping you safe from barely-used apps

Google is alerting app developers to some big coding changes ahead of the planned expansion of Android's permission auto-reset policy. This means more users will have permissions they've granted to apps automatically revoked starting in December. Here's what you need to know as a consumer.

The permission auto-resetting policy came with the launch of Android 11 and applies to every single device running that version or later. The policy goes that if a user grants certain permissions for an app that targets Android 11 (API level 30) or later but then does not use the app for a few months, those permissions will be automatically revoked.

There are some exceptions to the rule: developers can prompt users to turn off the auto-reset feature if it is on, and; users can manually turn on the policy for apps targeting Android 6.0 to 10 (API levels 23 to 29).

So, here's the only thing that's changing starting in December: the policy will begin applying to any device with Google Play Services running Android 6.0 to 10. There is no change to the policy's API target, so apps targeting Android 11 or later will continue to be the only ones subject to the policy. But that still means hundreds of millions if not billions of devices with modern apps idling around will be notified that their app no longer has permission to take privileged actions. The policy rollout is expected to last through Q1 next year.

With this class expansion, developers with apps targeting level 30 and above that want users to disable the policy will need to implement a new set of APIs Google has released in beta right now and will incorporate into Jetpack Core v1.7 next month. Furthermore, these APIs will also work with prompting users to disable the more intensive app hibernation policy, set to come on Android 12. More details can be found at the Android Developers Blog.