Explain access to more sensitive information

The permissions related to location, microphone, and camera grant your app access to particularly sensitive information about users. The platform includes several mechanisms, described on this page, to help users stay informed and in control over which apps can access location, microphone, and camera.

These privacy-preserving system features shouldn't affect how your app handles the permissions related to location, microphone, and camera, as long as you follow privacy best practices.

In particular, make sure you do the following in your app:

  • Wait to access the device's camera until the user has granted the CAMERA permission to your app.
  • Wait to access the device's microphone until the user has granted the RECORD_AUDIO permission to your app.
  • Wait until the user interacts with a feature in your app that requires location before you request the ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION permission or the ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION permission, as described in the guide on how to request location permissions.
  • Wait until the user grants your app either the ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION permission or the ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION permission before you request the ACCESS_BACKGROUND_LOCATION permission.

Privacy Dashboard

A vertical timeline shows the different apps that have
         accessed location information, and at what time the accesses occurred
Figure 1. Location usage screen, part of the Privacy Dashboard.

On supported devices that run Android 12 or higher, a Privacy Dashboard screen appears in system settings. On this screen, users can access separate screens that show when apps access location, camera, and microphone information. Each screen shows a timeline of when different apps have accessed a particular type of data. Figure 1 shows the data access timeline for location information.

Show rationale for data access

Your app can provide a rationale for users to help them understand why your app accesses location, camera, or microphone information. This rationale can appear on the new Privacy Dashboard screen, your app's permissions screen, or both.

To explain why your app accesses location, camera, and microphone information, complete the following steps:

  1. Add an activity that, when started, provides some rationale for why your app performs a particular type of data access action. Within this activity, set the android:permission attribute to START_VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE.

    If your app targets Android 12 or higher, you must explicitly define a value for the android:exported attribute.

  2. Add the following intent filter to the newly-added activity:

    <!-- android:exported required if you target Android 12. -->
    <activity android:name=".DataAccessRationaleActivity"
              android:permission="android.permission.START_VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE"
              android:exported="true">
           <!-- VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE shows a selectable information icon on
                your app permission's page in system settings.
                VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE_FOR_PERIOD shows a selectable information
                icon on the Privacy Dashboard screen. -->
        <intent-filter>
           <action android:name="android.intent.action.VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE" />
           <action android:name="android.intent.action.VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE_FOR_PERIOD" />
           <category android:name="android.intent.category.DEFAULT" />
           ...
        </intent-filter>
    </activity>
    
  3. Decide what your data access rationale activity should show. For example, you might show your app's website or a help center article. To provide a more detailed explanation about the types of data that your app accesses, as well as when the access occurred, handle the extras that the system includes when it invokes the permission usage intent:

Depending on which intent filters you add, users see an information icon next to your app's name on certain screens:

  • If you add the intent filter that contains the VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE action, users see the icon on your app's permissions page in system settings.
  • If you add the intent filter that contains the VIEW_PERMISSION_USAGE_FOR_PERIOD action, users see the icon next to your app's name whenever your app appears in the Privacy Dashboard screen.

When users select that icon, your app's rationale activity is started.

A rounded rectangle in the upper-right corner, which
         includes a camera icon and a microphone icon
Figure 2. Microphone and camera indicators, which show recent data access.

Indicators

On devices that run Android 12 or higher, when an app accesses the microphone or camera, an icon appears in the status bar. If the app is in immersive mode, the icon appears in the upper-right corner of the screen. Users can open Quick Settings and select the icon to view which apps are currently using the microphone or camera. Figure 2 shows an example screenshot that contains the icons.

Identify the screen location of indicators

If your app supports immersive mode or a full-screen UI, the indicators might momentarily overlap your app's UI. To help adapt your UI to these indicators, the system introduces the getPrivacyIndicatorBounds() method, which the following code snippet demonstrates. Using this API, you can identify the bounds where the indicators might appear. You might then decide to organize your screen's UI differently.

Kotlin

view.setOnApplyWindowInsetsListener { view, windowInsets ->
    val indicatorBounds = windowInsets.getPrivacyIndicatorBounds()
    // change your UI to avoid overlapping
    windowInsets
}

Toggles

Quick settings tiles are labeled 'Camera access' and
         'Mic access'
Figure 3. Microphone and camera toggles in Quick Settings.

On supported devices that run Android 12 or higher, users can enable and disable camera and microphone access for all apps on the device by pressing a single toggle option. Users can access the toggleable options from Quick Settings, as shown in figure 3, or from the Privacy screen in system settings.

The camera and microphone toggles affect all apps on the device:

  • When the user turns off camera access, your app receives a blank camera feed.
  • When the user turns off microphone access, your app receives silent audio. Additionally, motion sensors are rate-limited, regardless of whether you declare the HIGH_SAMPLING_RATE_SENSORS permission.

When the user turns off access to camera or microphone, then launches an app that needs access to camera or microphone information, the system reminds the user that the device-wide toggle is turned off.

Check device support

To check whether a device supports microphone and camera toggles, add the logic that appears in the following code snippet:

Kotlin

val sensorPrivacyManager = applicationContext
        .getSystemService(SensorPrivacyManager::class.java)
        as SensorPrivacyManager
val supportsMicrophoneToggle = sensorPrivacyManager
        .supportsSensorToggle(Sensors.MICROPHONE)
val supportsCameraToggle = sensorPrivacyManager
        .supportsSensorToggle(Sensors.CAMERA)

Java

SensorPrivacyManager sensorPrivacyManager = getApplicationContext()
        .getSystemService(SensorPrivacyManager.class);
boolean supportsMicrophoneToggle = sensorPrivacyManager
        .supportsSensorToggle(Sensors.MICROPHONE);
boolean supportsCameraToggle = sensorPrivacyManager
        .supportsSensorToggle(Sensors.CAMERA);