What’s Old Is New Again (Mobile App Permissions Edition)

By Alan Ralph on June 26, 2020 — 1 min read

Symbian was, for its time, a brilliant OS. It ran 3D games smoothly, had terrific hardware support, a decent ecosystem for developers. And it was bloody annoying for users.

Every few minutes, Symbian would interrupt you to ask “Are you sure you want this app to connect to the Internet?”

On and on it went. And then, with great fanfare, Apple and Google disrupted them.

Apple’s model was “We have a curated store of artisanal apps, each one backed up by a legal entity with a DUNS number. We check them so you don’t have to. Everything on our store is trustworthy.”

Ha!

Google’s model was “We’ll tell you what kind of crap this app will use. Don’t like it? Don’t use it! YOLO!”

That, of course, led to ostensibly harmless apps asking for ridiculously invasive permissions.

Terence Eden, Symbian Won

And now we’re headed back to more permission requests. Because it turns out that ease-of-use isn’t so great when it compromises security and/or privacy.

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