Android 11 security and privacy changes you need to know

Although Google loves to talk about how it uses the latest AI and machine learning technologies to power its anti-malware systems, Android's security and its sibling privacy are almost points of ridicule for the mobile platform. Of course, that gives Google even more reasons to double down on improving Android's security and privacy features. Such is the case with Android 11 and Google developers are now sharing the changes that will affect how users interact with apps and permissions.

Android has been offering increasingly fine-grained permissions for things that apps would want access to, especially for things that have privacy implications like location data, camera use, and more. Sometimes, a simple yes or no is enough but certain permissions require special handling.

Getting location data even while the app is running in the background is one such example and Android 11 will require developers and users to do a bit more work to enable it, just to make sure they're aware of the power they're granting. More interesting, however, is the one-time permission feature that lets you allow the use of a certain resource for just one time. That means you will have to grant that app permission every time you run it but it makes sure you don't leave an app with access that you don't really need to use all the time.

You will, however, eventually forget some apps that you've enabled permissions for. Just like Google's new policy on user data, Android 11 will have an "auto-reset" feature for permissions after a period of time. Apps can still request that users disable this feature if it will break the app's functionality.

One of the more controversial security features Google introduced in Android 10 was Scoped Storage and it's making an appearance again in Android 11. This time, it's being made mandatory for apps that target Android 11, though Google has hopefully now addressed the concerns and complaints of app developers about it.