(57) Detailed Android App Permissions List and What Do They Mean

Android app permissions have improved a lot over the years. But still, the apps are not trustworthy. Especially if you have an android phone then the threat increases. Yes, you read it right! So I have created different android app permissions list which will help you to make an appropriate decision next time when giving permissions to an installed app. 


Before we get to the list let us first understand basic questions related to app permissions. 

57 Different Android App Permissions Explained| android app permissions list List of 57 Different Android App Permissions Explained

Table of Contents

Does uninstalling an app remove permissions? 


No, not necessarily because most apps leave behind directory structure along with log files and other data to let them know if they were previously installed. 

How to solve “android apps updating without permission” problem. 


How to disable auto- update of an app: 

  • Open the Google Play Store.
  • Tap the icon in the top-left, and choose My apps & games.
  • Now click on the top-right corner. 
  • Uncheck Auto-update.


How to disable automatic updates for all apps on android: 

  • Open the Google Play Store.
  • Tap the top-left icon, and choose Settings.
  • Under General, tap Auto-update apps.
  • Choose the first option: Do not auto-update apps.

How to solve “android app keeps asking for permission” problem? 

To see all permissions of an app: 

  • Open the Settings app on your phone.
  • Tap Application Manager
  • Tap the app you want to update.
  • Tap Permissions.
  • Next, choose which permissions you want to give. 

Why android app needs permission? 

The sole reason being to protect your data from exploitation. 


If your android device gave all the permissions to all the apps which you installed then there would be a high chance that your data would be on sale on an online black market. 


According to Citrusbits, android’s play store security is very low compared to that of Apple’s app store. 


Because the app store has high standards required by an app to qualify before they publish it on their app store.


While play store! meh! 

A Complete Android App Permissions List and What Do They Mean


1.) Make phone calls


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.CALL_PHONE

Risk: HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description:

Allows an application to initiate a phone call without going through the Dialer user interface for the user to confirm the call being placed.


Details

This permission is of high importance. This could let an application call a 1-900 number and charge you money. 


2.) Send SMS or MMS


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.SEND_SMS

Risk: HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to send SMS messages.


Details

This permission is of high importance. This could let an application send an SMS on your behalf, and much like the phone call permission, it could cost you money by sending SMS to for-pay numbers.


3.) Modify/delete SD card contents


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to write to external storage.


Details

This permission is of high importance. This will allow applications to read, write, and delete anything stored on your phone’s SD card. This includes pictures, videos, mp3s, documents, and even data written to your SD card by other applications.


4.) Read Contacts


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.READ_CONTACTS

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to read the user’s contacts data.


Details

This permission is of high importance. Unless an app explicitly states a specific feature that it would use your contact list for, there isn’t much of a reason to give an application this permission. 


5.) Write contact data


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.WRITE_CONTACTS

Risk: MODERATE-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to write (but not read) the user’s contacts data.


Details

This permission is of high importance. Unless an app explicitly states a specific feature that it would use your contact list for, there isn’t much of a reason to give an application this permission. 


6.) Read calendar data


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.READ_CALENDAR

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to read the user’s calendar data.


Details

This permission is of moderate to high importance. While most people would consider their calendar information slightly less important than their list of contacts and friends, this permission should still be treated with care when allowing applications access. 


7.) Write calendar data


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.WRITE_CALENDAR

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to write (but not read) the user’s calendar data.


Details

This permission is of moderate to high importance. While most people would consider their calendar information slightly less important than their list of contacts and friends, this permission should still be treated with care when allowing applications access. 


8.) Read browser history & bookmarks


Permission Type: Software

URI: com.android.browser.permission.READ_HISTORY_BOOKMARKS

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to read (but not write) the user’s browsing history and bookmarks.


Details

This permission is of medium-high importance. Browsing habits are often tracked through regular computers, but with this permission, you’d be giving access to more than just browsing habits. 


9.) Write browser history & bookmarks


Permission Type: Software

URI: com.android.browser.permission.WRITE_HISTORY_BOOKMARKS

Risk: MODERATE-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to write (but not read) the user’s browsing history and bookmarks.


Details

This permission is of medium-high importance. Browsing habits are often tracked through regular computers, but with this permission, you’d be giving access to more than just browsing habits.


10.) Read sensitive logs


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.READ_LOGS

Risk: VERY-HIGH

Protection level: DEVELOPMENT


Official Description

Allows an application to read the low-level system log files.


Details

This permission is of high importance. This allows the application to read what any other applications have logged.


11.) Modify global system settings


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.WRITE_SETTINGS

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to read or write the system settings


Details

This permission is pretty important but only has the possibility of moderate impact. Global settings are pretty much anything you would find under Android’s main ‘settings’ window. However, a lot of these settings may be perfectly reasonable for an application to change. 


12.) Read sync settings


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.READ_SYNC_SETTINGS

Risk: LOW-MODERATE

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows applications to read the sync settings


Details

This permission is of low to medium importance. It mostly allows the application to know if you have background data sync (such as for Facebook or Gmail) turned on or off.



13.) Automatically start at boot


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.RECEIVE_BOOT_COMPLETED

Risk: MODERATE-HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to receive the ACTION_BOOT_COMPLETED that is broadcast after the system finishes booting.


Details

This permission is of low to moderate impact. It will allow an application to tell Android to run the application every time you start your phone. While not a danger in and of itself, it can point to an applications intent



14.) Restart other applications 


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.RESTART_PACKAGES

Risk: HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

This constant is deprecated. The restartPackage(String) API is no longer supported.


Details

This permission is of low to moderate impact. It will allow an application to tell Android to ‘kill’ the process of another application. However, any app that is killed will likely get restarted by the Android OS itself. 


15.) Retrieve running applications


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.GET_TASKS

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to get information about the currently or recently running tasks: a thumbnail representation of the tasks, what activities are running in it, etc.


Details

This permission is of moderate importance. It will allow an application to find out what other applications are running on your phone. While not a danger in and of itself, it would be a useful tool for someone trying to steal your data. 


16.) Display system-level alerts


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.SYSTEM_ALERT_WINDOW

Risk: HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to open windows using the type TYPE_SYSTEM_ALERT, shown on top of all other applications.


Details

This permission is of high importance. This permission allows an app to show a “popup” window above all other apps, even if the app is not in the foreground. A malicious developer/advertiser could use it to show very obnoxious advertising.


17.) Control vibrator


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.VIBRATE

Risk: LOW

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows access to the vibrator 


Details

This permission is of low importance. As it states, it lets an app control the vibrate function on your phone. This includes incoming calls and other events.



18.) Take pictures and videos


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.CAMERA

Risk: MODERATE-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Required to be able to access the camera device.


Details

This permission is of moderate importance. As it states, it lets an app control the camera function on your phone. In theory, this could be used maliciously to snap unsuspecting photos, but it would be unlikely and difficult to get a worthwhile picture or video. However, it is not impossible to make malicious use of cameras.



19.) Access location extra commands


Permission Type: Network

URI: android.permission.ACCESS_LOCATION_EXTRA_COMMANDS

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to access extra location provider commands


Details

The specifics of the extra commands here are a bit unclear. However, the usage of this permission indicates that an app wants to know detailed information about your location, and respond accordingly.


20.) Access mock location


Permission Type: Network

URI: android.permission.ACCESS_MOCK_LOCATION

Risk: MODERATE

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to create mock location providers for testing


Details

This is permission used for development of apps that make use of location-based services. By creating “mock” (fake) locations, apps can test if their code works correctly depending on your location.


21.) Battery stats


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.BATTERY_STATS

Risk: LOW

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to collect battery statistics


Details

This permission is of little to no importance.



22.) Bluetooth Admin


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.BLUETOOTH_ADMIN

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows applications to discover and pair Bluetooth devices


Details

Bluetooth Wikipedia is a technology that lets your phone communicate wirelessly over short distances. It is similar to Wi-Fi in many ways. It itself is not a danger to your phone, but it does enable a way for an application to send and receive data from other devices.


23.) Broadcast Sticky (Intents) 


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.BROADCAST_STICKY

Risk: LOW-MEDIUM

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to broadcast sticky intents. These are broadcasts whose data is held by the system after being finished so that clients can quickly retrieve that data without having to wait for the next broadcast.


Details

The permission has to do with how applications “talk” to each other using a communication method called “Intents”. While this permission is highly technical it is relatively low importance. There are no know obvious malicious uses for this permission. 



24.) Change Configuration


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.CHANGE_CONFIGURATION

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to modify the current configuration, such as locale.


Details

This is a permission that generally should not be granted to regular apps. Other than changing the locale (i.e. language), it is unclear what configuration changes this permission allows. As such, it should be treated with considerable caution.



25.) Clear app cache


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.CLEAR_APP_CACHE

Risk: LOW

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to clear the caches of all installed applications on the device.


Details

This permission is of low importance. It allows an app to clear the cache of apps on the phone or tablet. A cache is a place that app stores recently used data for faster access. Clearing the cache can sometimes (very rarely) fix bugs related to those files.


26.) Disable Keyguard (lock screen)


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.DISABLE_KEYGUARD

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows applications to disable the keyguard


Details

This permission is of medium-high importance. It allows an app to disable the “lock screen” that most phones go into after going to sleep and been turned on again. This lock screen can sometimes be a password screen, or a PIN screen, or just a “slide to unlock” screen.



27.) Expand status bar


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.EXPAND_STATUS_BAR

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to expand or collapse the status bar.


Details

This appears to be system permission — not for use by regular applications. If you come across this permission I would beware of any app requesting it that is not an Android system app.



28.) Flashlight


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.FLASHLIGHT

Risk: LOW

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows access to the flashlight


Details

This allows apps to turn on or off the LED “flash” light used by the camera. This is a handy tool but usually of no risk itself.

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29.) Get package size


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.GET_PACKAGE_SIZE

Risk: LOW-MODERATE

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to find out the space used by any package.


Details

This permission does not seem to have any risk associated with it.



30.) Kill background processes


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.KILL_BACKGROUND_PROCESSES

Risk: HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to call killBackgroundProcesses(String).


Details

This permission is a bit of a tricky one. Often this is used by what are called “task killers”. These apps supposedly free system resources by closing apps running in the background. However, the usefulness of such apps is minimal at best. They can help close an app that is misbehaving, however, a user can already do that themselves through the Android settings under “Apps” or “Manage Applications”. Conversely, this permission has some potential to maliciously close anti-virus or other security related apps. As with anything I would treat this with caution. Few users should ever need an app with this permission. Rather, it could be an indicator of malicious intent (especially if not requested by a task killer or system performance tuning app).



31.) Modify audio settings


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.MODIFY_AUDIO_SETTINGS

Risk: LOW

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to modify global audio settings


Details

This permission is of low importance. Audio settings pose little to no risk to the device.



32.) Format file systems


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.MOUNT_FORMAT_FILESYSTEMS

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows formatting file systems for removable storage.


Details

The primary danger with this permission is that it could be used to erase data from an SD card or other similar storage in your phone. This is also not permitted by any normal app should need.

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33.) Mount / Unmount file systems


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.MOUNT_UNMOUNT_FILESYSTEMS

Risk: MODERATE

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows mounting and unmounting file systems for removable storage.


Details

This permission just allows for connecting to SD cards for reading and writing. While not a risk itself, this is also not permitted by any normal app should need.



34.) NFC (Near Field Communication)


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.NFC

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows applications to perform I/O operations over NFC


Details

NFC stands for Near Field Communication. This is a technology like Bluetooth that enables short-range communication between two devices or the reading of NFC “tags”. 



35.) Process outgoing calls


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.PROCESS_OUTGOING_CALLS

Risk: VERY-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to monitor, modify, or abort outgoing calls.


Details

This permission is of high importance. This would allow an app to see what numbers are called and other personal info. Generally, this permission should only be seen on apps for VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) like Google Voice or dialer replacement type apps. 



36.) Read sync stats


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.READ_SYNC_STATS

Risk: MODERATE

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows applications to read the sync stats


Details

This permission is related to “Read sync settings” but not particularly dangerous itself. There is a minor risk that some personal information could be gleaned from the sync stats, but the information is unlikely to be valuable. Sync, in this case, relates to the syncing of contacts and other types of media on the phone.



37.) Record audio


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.RECORD_AUDIO

Risk: MODERATE-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to record audio


Details

While this permission is not typically dangerous, it is a potential tool for eavesdropping. However recording audio has legitimate uses such as note taking apps or voice search apps. As a side note recording audio is typically a significant drain on the battery.



38.) Set alarm


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.SET_ALARM

Risk: LOW

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to broadcast an Intent to set an alarm for the user.


Details

This permission seems to be of low risk because it doesn’t allow the setting of the alarm directly. Rather it allows the opening of the alarm app on the phone.



39.) Set time zone


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.SET_TIME_ZONE

Risk: LOW

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows applications to set the system time zone


Details

This permission poses little if any, risk



40.) Set wallpaper


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.SET_WALLPAPER

Risk: LOW

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows applications to set the wallpaper


Details

This permission poses little if any, risk



41.) Subscribed feeds read


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.SUBSCRIBED_FEEDS_READ

Risk: MEDIUM

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to allow access the subscribed feeds ContentProvider.


Details

This would give an app access to RSS feed that you have subscribed to. If you don’t subscribe to any RSS feeds this permission is of little risk. If you do, this permission is akin to letting an app have access to your browser history.


42.) Subscribed feeds write


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.SUBSCRIBED_FEEDS_WRITE

Risk: LOW-MEDIUM

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

(No developer documentation is available for this permission)


Details

This would give an app access to RSS feed that you have subscribed to. If you don’t subscribe to any RSS feeds, this permission is of little risk. If you do, this permission is akin to letting an app have access to your browser history. 


43.) Use SIP


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.USE_SIP

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to use SIP service


Details

SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol. It is a technology mostly used for making video and voice calls over the Internet. While not a major security risk it should be treated with almost as much caution as the standard “make phone calls” permission.



44.) Write secure settings


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.WRITE_SECURE_SETTINGS

Risk: VERY-HIGH

Protection level: DEVELOPMENT


Official Description

Allows an application to read or write the secure system settings.


Details

This permission should only be seen on Android system apps (and possibly wireless carriers or hardware manufacturer pre-installed apps).


45.) Read profile


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.READ_PROFILE

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to read the user’s personal profile data.


Details

This a new permission that relates to a special new “Me” contact you can create in your phone or tablet as your own profile.



46.) Install Shortcut (Android Launcher)


Permission Type: Software

URI: com.android.launcher.permission.INSTALL_SHORTCUT

Risk: MODERATE-HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Details

This is custom permission for the default Android Launcher (the home screen). This permission would allow an app to put an icon or shortcut there. While not dangerous, this can sometimes be a sign of a potentially malicious or adware app. 


47.) Read external storage


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.READ_EXTERNAL_STORAGE

Risk: LOW

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to read from external storage. 


Details

This permission is granted to all apps by default. 



48.) Add voicemail


Permission Type: Software

URI: com.android.voicemail.permission.ADD_VOICEMAIL

Risk: MEDIUM-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Details

This seems to be new permission related to Android’s new centralized voicemail system. It would be an unusual means for an app to use this permission maliciously. However a few apps should need it and, as always, it should be treated with caution.



49.) Authenticate Accounts


Your messages

URI: android.permission.AUTHENTICATE_ACCOUNTS

Risk: VERY-HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Details

This permission is of high importance. It allows an app to authenticate credentials (such as passwords). Typical uses of this would be if an app had its own type of account on your phones such as Google, Facebook, or Twitter. This permission is closely related to the Account Manager permission. 



50.) Read email attachments


Development tools / Your personal info

URI: com.android.email.permission.READ_ATTACHMENT

Risk: HIGH

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Details

This is custom permission for the default Android email app (i.e. not Gmail). This permission should be treated with great caution. Many email attachments contain highly sensitive and personal or financial information. 



51.) Read user dictionary


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.READ_USER_DICTIONARY

Risk: LOW

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Official Description

Allows an application to read the user dictionary.


Details

This would allow an app to read words added to your custom dictionary. Oftentimes this is abbreviations like “brb” that you might add for typing text messages. Unless you save personal information in your dictionary, this permission is of almost no risk.



52.) Write user dictionary


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.WRITE_USER_DICTIONARY

Risk: LOW

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Official Description

Allows an application to write to the user dictionary.


Details

This allows an app to add custom words to your user dictionary. For example, the common acronym “brb” for “be right back”.



53.) Install DRM


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.INSTALL_DRM

Risk: MODERATE-HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Details

DRM stands for Digital rights management. Typically this permission is not particularly dangerous itself. However, it is a permission related to controlling access to media such as books, audio video, and more. Due to its purpose to control access, I would be especially careful installing any app requesting it. 



54.) Add system service


Permission Type: Hardware

URI: android.permission.ADD_SYSTEM_SERVICE

Risk: CRITICAL

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Details

This permission should only be given to Android System apps (and possibly to wireless carrier or hardware manufacturer pre-installed apps)



55.) Access WiMax State


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.ACCESS_WIMAX_STATE

Risk: LOW-MODERATE

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Details

WiMax is a technology developed for “4G” data and internet speeds on mobile devices. This permission allows an app to see if it is currently connected to a wireless network that uses WiMax. There is no significant risk associated with this permission.

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56.) Change WiMAX state


Permission Type: Software

URI: android.permission.CHANGE_WIMAX_STATE

Risk: MODERATE

Protection level: DANGEROUS


Details

This permission allows an app to turn on or off the WiMax radio. WiMax is a type of “4G” wireless connection like LTE. This permission essentially allows an app to turn on or off 4G.



57.) Read instant messages (IM)


Permission Type: Software

URI: com.android.providers.im.permission.READ_ONLY

Risk: HIGH

Protection level: UNKNOWN


Details

This is permission related to reading instant messages, such as those on Google Talk. 


Thanks to Mr. alostpacket from Android Forums


Conclusion:


Hence this is a complete android app permissions list and I hope from now on you will make informed decisions before granting any permission to any app. 


Share your experiences about any app in the comments section. 

Thank You!!!

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Saish K

Author: Saish K

Hi there! my name is Saish. I hope you find this blog useful.

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