Yesterday, we published a blog post lauding an extremely
important app privacy feature that was added in Android 4.3. That
feature allows users to install apps while preventing the app
from collecting sensitive data like the user’s location or
After we published the post, several people contacted us to say
that the feature had actually been removed in Android 4.4.2, which
was released earlier this week. Today, we installed that update to
our test device, and can confirm that the App Ops privacy feature
that we were excited about yesterday is in fact now gone.
When asked for comment, Google told us that the feature had only
ever been released by accident — that it was experimental, and
that it could break some of the apps policed by it. We are
suspicious of this explanation, and do not think that it in any
way justifies removing the feature rather than improving it.