With all the hubbub recently about Facebook Messenger and the myriad of permissions it requests just to be able to run in the background, I was curious as to what permissions I have given some of the apps on my BlackBerry Z30. (Okay, the real reason I wanted to know is that I accidentally connected an app to BBM after an update and didn’t want to leave it connected but also didn’t want to delete it and reinstall it if I didn’t have to – Once again, my mistakes become blog fodder.)
I asked a few friends and all I got was “delete and reinstall the app and deny the permission” as an answer – which will work but I had an inkling that the BlackBerry 10 Operating System was smarter than than that. So I opened up the settings folder. It’s the one that looks like a gear.
From there you will want to select “Security and Privacy” which conveniently lists “Permissions, passwords screen lock, wipe” underneath it.
Once there, select “Application Permissions”.
Within Application Permissions you have a choice, you can filter the permissions by type using the drop down menu – so you can see all of the apps that have requested to connect to BBM for example.
By selecting “Connect to BBM” I get a list of all of the apps that have requested this permission and can see at a glance what I have selected.
You can also look at each of the apps separately and see what permissions each app has requested and what your settings are for that app. To do this select an app from the list without using the drop down menu.
Here is an example of the Uno app – You can see that I have allowed it permission to access shared files (so it can save games) but not to connect to BBM . You can use the sliding buttons to toggle permission on and off.
It is important to remember, that some applications will not run properly without certain permissions, so denying all permissions is not the best strategy. The good news is that it’s easy to go in and change the settings back if you accidentally revoke a needed permission. Most apps will even pop up a question asking for that permission to be granted the first time you try and use them. So that’s application permissions in a nutshell.
This got me thinking about what the most common permissions were and why they were needed in the first place so I talked to developers and read developer documentation to find some of the most commonly requested permissions and will now attempt to put them into easier (for non developers) to understand terms.
Contacts: An application like Twitter (or in my case Blaq since it’s my Twitter app of choice) needs to be able to access your contacts to bring up the options when you try to tag a friend in a tweet. Without access to the contacts, you have to type in each twitter user handle manually in a tweet. (This is not good for someone like me who has a horrible memory for twitter handles.)
Shared Files: This one is one that looks scary but is actually really benign. If you want an app such as Igrann (the fabulous Instagram client for BlackBerry 10 -I will write about it soon, I promise) to be able to upload a picture, it needs access to the picture files on your device.
Camera: Similar to Shared Files (above), if you want to be able to take a picture with the camera and have it load to Igrann or Twitter instantly without having to go through saved files, the app will need to be able to access your camera.
Connect to BBM: I tend not to allow access to BBM but that is my choice. Allowing an application access to BBM means that you can invite other users to download it from the app itself, or even initiate BBM conversations from the app. It’s a pretty neat permission, I just don’t ever use it so I figure I don’t need apps to have that permission right now.
Location / GPS Location: Again, this one is pretty self explanatory – if you want to check in on Foursquare or have Endomondo track your run, you need to allow the apps to know where you are.
Calendar: This permission allows apps such as Facebook to add events to your calendar. I personally love it since I don’t always check the events tab on the Facebook App and have missed events because of it. This way if I say “I’m going” to an event, it magically ends up in my device calendar with a handy reminder.
Finally, Run in Background: Most apps don’t request this permission as the BlackBerry development team is pretty strict about which apps they allow to ask for this permission. I only have 3 that request it in my long list of apps. One of the apps that I have that is allowed to run in the background is Blaq. This permission allows Blaq to keep processing when it is minimized – so that the tweet stream is being refreshed. It also allows an app like Webex (a great piece of productivity software), to keep streaming audio and video without losing its place and having to start again.
Those are the most common app permissions, though if you have any others that you’d like to have explained, ask in the comment section and I will try to find out.