One of the big additions to Android with the unveiling of Android M last week is more granular permission controls, allowing developers to ask for access to things like the microphone or GPS only once they need them, and for users to be able to revoke one or all of these permissions when they’d like. What wasn’t discussed on the keynote stage, however, is that the Chrome browser already has these features. Here’s how to use them:
In an afternoon Google I/O session about what the company views as the best way to manage user permissions, security researcher Adrienne Porter Felt explained that when you navigate to a website in the Chrome browser that wants permissions to access something on your computer, the browser will ask you in real-time right below the Omnibox (the box the site URL is in). Further, you always have access to the permissions you’ve granted to a particular website by clicking the icon to the left of the URL in the Omnibox, and can disable or enable new permissions individually from this view.
I’m sure most of you who’ve used the Chrome browser have seen what this looks like in practice, but here are two pictures. This first one is Chrome asking for access to my computer’s camera and microphone:
And here is how I can see which permissions I’ve granted to the website I’m currently on, and where I can enable or disable each individually:
How Chrome and Android M deal with permissions by giving users full control over when and to what extent apps and websites gain access to your device, that’s been a big area of focus for Google. But it doesn’t stop with simply managing permissions, however, as the company says they’ve been pushing developers hard to ensure that services still function (without crashing) even when one or many permissions has been disabled. And the company isn’t just fighting third-party developers for the rights of users, it’s also been updating controls for holders of Google accounts to make them more clear and easily accessible to as many people as possible. The crusade for user control continues.