I’m gonna geek out a bit today. If you’re an Android user like me and have upgraded to Marshmallow, you really should take some time to tweak your app permissions. With the 6.0 release, you now have the ability to turn on/off individual permissions by app. This has been one of my biggest frustrations with Android. Many apps are great and do wonderful things, but frankly they often do not need all the permissions they ask for at installation. Like, at all! And the down side of some apps having too many permissions is they eat away at your battery life. I’m definitely in the heavy user category and while I get good battery life on my Moto X, eliminating apps that waste the battery make it that much better. Of course, the developer might feel different but as an end user, I should have some say in that. Thanks to Google, now I do.
In the past, it was all or nothing. If you really wanted an app, your only choice was to install it with all the permissions intact. If you were on a rooted device, you had options, but most people never root their phones for a variety of good reasons. Your left with deploying a task manager which basically acts on your behalf routinely killing annoyingly persistent apps in the background. An effective, albeit cumbersome fix. If you’re a power user like me and often need to really wring every ounce of juice out of single charge, being able to throttle juice hungry apps is a welcome change.
And if you’re already lost, any app you install needs permissions to access parts of the OS or hardware on your device. When you download the app, you get a list of the permissions it wants prior to installation. This is necessary in an open OS like Android. Obviously, a selfie app like Snapchat would need access to your camera to function properly. You would grant it permission at installation to access your camera. However, it also has access to my phone dialer, which it absolutely does not need. The unfortunate problem is many developers abuse this function or get over-zealous. You also have apps from 3rd party sites that use this to gain access to your device to perform nefarious things, like take pictures, send text messages, or make phone calls, etc w/o your permission.
With Marshmallow, you can now tweak the permissions once you’ve installed an app. For example, the Facebook app is notorious for being a battery hog. It constantly does pings, location checks, etc. Now you can change some of the settings to prevent it from being a hog. FB Messenger is another particularly annoying system abuser. It is by far my most hated app. I personally will never give FB my contacts or let it run my phone/texts so I disabled these. I also disabled access to location so it isn’t constantly pinging my location. All of this uses my cell connection eating up battery life. I’ve noticed a 15% jump just from tweaking this two very annoying apps.
To be clear, the apps are still requesting the data or access; however, the OS sends it null (generic or empty)) data to keep the app running properly. This negates any drain on the hardware and is a brilliant work around to a growing problem w/app developers. It effectively puts them on notice to keep it simple or face being checked by Google.
You don’t need to be an expert but you do need a basic understanding of what you’re doing. Like I said, if you kill an app’s access to a function it needs, it won’t work or perform properly. The good news here is if you break it, you can fix it by re-enabling the permission in the app! Not every app will need tweaked. If your goal is better battery life, check out your usage stats to see which apps are the most egregious. Go into your apps manager in the settings, scroll to the offensive app, tap it, then tap permissions and disable the ones you don’t want it abusing. Done!