Android vs iOS: Which Has The Better App Permissions System

6 min read
Updated: Sep 15, 2019

The privacy of the app users has always been compromised. Regardless of the operating systems, the apps have been accessing the users’ data like contacts, pictures, location, etc. However, awareness of the data privacy has risen and users are more particular while choosing the app they install on their mobile phones. The operating systems have also revised their app permission policy and made them more transparent.

Here, we will have a look at how the app permission system for iOS and Android fare when compared to each other. We will evaluate both the operating systems on several fronts including the amount of information provided, option to change the permission settings later and others. Both the operating systems have their set of pros and cons. Read on to explore.

Upfront Description Of The App Permissions

It is the right of the app users to know what content will the apps access before they install them and both Android and iOS provide it, but with varied approaches. Both the operating systems are similar when it comes to providing the link to the privacy policy of the app developers. However, beyond that, the information provided upfront has many dissimilarities. In the case of an Android app, the users are given the information on the app permissions before the users hit the install button.

Clicking on the Permission details on the Google Play’s app page will tell you about all the features that the app would access. However, the reason why these permissions are required finds no mention and it is a downside. To know this reason, you will have to go through the privacy policy which is quite long and filled with technical jargons that very few would understand thoroughly. The new apps developed for the latest Android version Marshmallow ask for the permission for accessing some device features only when you use the app, which resembles the approach iOS takes.

The iOS apps do not provide any such information upfront and the apps seek permission from the users when the app is installed and put to use. For instance, a photo editing app will ask for access to the gallery when it is opened and made to edit the images.

Ease Of Making Adjustments In App Permission Later

In case, you do not wish to grant permission to certain apps for accessing device features, the option is provided by both Android and iOS.

For iOS, changing the permission for the apps is quite easy. Folks at Apple give privacy a top position in the settings app. You just have to go to setting-> privacy and manage the app permission. Settings for ad privacy and diagnostics can also be changed from this section. It is like a one-stop destination for the permission settings and is very convenient to find.

In the case of Android, the path to privacy setting is a little more curvy. There are two ways to tweak the app permission. You can either go to setting, then apps and use the gear icon to change the app permission settings. Alternatively, in the app section, click on the name of the app, click on App permissions and change the settings. Going for the first option will change the settings for all the apps, whereas using the second option, you can change the permission for the app you choose.

In terms of flexibility, Android wins this bout because it gives you the option to set the app that you wish, can send or receive SMS. Also, you can change the default apps for sending messages. These are some flexibilities that iOS users cannot enjoy. But, iOS provides simplicity and this is what users love. The options in Android are many but scattered and this is what makes iOS winner when it comes to ease of making adjustments in-app permission.

Ease Of Understanding The App Permission Settings

The permission settings may not prove to be much useful if the users are not able to understand them just because they are complex or they do away with some necessary details.

Android provides the app permission information in more detail than iOS but the entire exercise becomes futile because it is not user-friendly. There are jargons used in Android’s permission detail screen which include sticky broadcasts which may not be understood by the end users. It has been improved in the latest Android version but it still has a long way to go in making the details more clear and comprehensible.

iOS, on the other hand, does not have such detailed disclosures of the app permissions but the language used in communicating whatever they offer, is simple and straight forward. There is a lot of self-explanatory text content to drive home the points to the users without confusing them. You often get friendly reminders about associated information that also throws light on the privacy issues that users may not be knowing.

Additionally, there are some iOS apps that provide a short description citing the reason why they wish to know your location. This information is not displayed to the users as a message but one can go to the location services setting to view this. As this information does not pop-up when the app asks for the location access, it is not a very useful feature.

Undoubtedly, iOS scores more than Android by being a more user-friendly OS in terms of app information clarity. Apple does not use technical jargon to keep this easy for the users. However, improvements can be made on the part of iOS.

The Bottom Line

As per the evaluation, Android has an upper hand when it comes to explaining the app permissions in detail whereas, iOS is ahead in terms of user-friendly approach and a more organized interface for app permission setting. If we look at the bigger picture, Android provides much more details about the app permission and is more flexible, while iOS is more comprehensible and makes the permission settings easier to be found by the users. Hence, iOS has a slight edge over Android because the privacy tool is more effective and the users find it easy and simple. Both the operating systems do not have a very wide difference when it comes to handling app permission settings. With updates to both the OS in the pipeline, the app permission settings will more polished in the subsequent updates.




The post has been penned by Ashni Sharma. She is an application developer working with AppsChopper, a leading development firm based in India. Ashni loves to write about the latest innovations in mobile technology, app development, and host of other topics

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