Mobile App Permissions – Best Practices for Developers

In-app permissions should only request the access to information necessary for the proper functioning of the app.

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Mobile App Permissions – Best Practices for Developers


Whenever we install an application on iOS or Android – we get a notification from the developers to give ‘permissions to access location, contacts, photos, etc’ – these mobile app permissions vary from application to application. Meaning if we have downloaded a ride-hailing app, we would need to permit the app to access our location and contacts, if we have downloaded a photo editing app we would need to give access to our photo gallery, and so on and so forth. 

These necessary permissions only access the information for the proper functioning of the app. Many times we may have noticed that if we ignore it, the app won’t open. These permissions protect our valuable information but sometimes if we ignore to pay attention – we might end up giving access to information not even needed by the app. Collecting related information makes sense but people still should keep an eye out and avoid giving out unnecessary info for example a photo editing application accessing your contacts. 

This is where mobile app developers need to be very cautious when developing and deploying apps because it can make or break your business. So if you are developing an app, make sure you will ask only the information that is needed – it is very important for customer trust-building. 

What are mobile app permissions?

Permissions are when users consent to allow your mobile application to access the information that it needs to function fully after they have installed it.

The category of the application dictates and defines the permissions that it needs such as location, gallery, contact, etc. Additionally, they are enabled based on consent, after the user has installed the application, the app provides them with a list of permissions needed, if the users agree they will click ‘I agree’ to run the app. 

The app permissions are presented to be more transparent on part of the developers, meaning it proves that developers are not doing something shady, they are transparent with nothing to hide, and that there is an authentic reason why they need the permissions. But sometimes we get permissions that have nothing to do with the app, in that case, customers are supposed to be very careful before giving out any information that is irrelevant to the app. 

Android app permissions 

    • Storage: for internal and external file storage
    • Body sensors: permissions to allow access to health data such as heart rate monitor, etc.
    • Calendar: for creating, editing, and deleting events 
    • Camera: to take photos and record videos
    • Contacts: for creating, editing, and deleting contacts, also accessing contact lists of linked accounts on your devices
    • Location: for high wifi proximity
    • Microphone: to record audios
    • Phone: for making calls, voicemail, call redirection et al.
    • SMS: for reading, receiving, and sending MMS and SMS messages.

Best practices for developers for in-app permissions 

Ask permissions right after the app installation

The best thing to do is to ask for permissions right after the customer has onboarded your app. It is probably one of the most effective and easiest ways. Because this way there would be no surprises for your customers after they have started using the application plus they would know beforehand about the things that the app will be accessing to function.

Just so you know, some users will accept the mobile app permissions  and others might still be skeptical, now this is where you need to come up with the best strategy moving forward.

Send a reminder for in-app permissions 

If the customers have refused to give the permit once you have asked, you can always send out a reminder. But since you can only ask for permissions once, because you don’t want to annoy your customers or make them turn away, it does not mean that you can not send a polite, friendly, gentle reminder. Here you may need to come up with striking content, which after reading the users would have no other option but to agree.

You can either tell them why you need the permissions or ask them a question about what they think about permitting and the things that they are missing out on. Asking twice can actually do you more good than harm, because maybe the second request was sent out at a more appropriate time and users will accept the prompt, and maybe they will know they are missing out on some really cool app features and are eager to accept the second prompt. 

Send a permission prompt only when needed 

The most important thing is to make your customers trust you first because just as you wouldn’t want anyone to enter your room without permission as it’s your personal space similarly your customers need to trust you first.

Therefore only ask for permission requests when seriously needed and unless they are critical without which the app wouldn’t even open and then ask for secondary mobile app permissions along with the way as the user familiarizes itself with your application. 

Educating users about the need for mobile app permissions

Not everyone blindly follows what’s asked of them. Therefore it is important you give your users some context beforehand and the best thing to do is during the onboarding.

Through an explainer video on onboarding, you can not only explain the benefits of the application and the reasons why customers should use it but also what they need in order for the app to function smoothly. You can educate them about the importance of app permissions while highlighting your core values of transparency.

In short, you need to clarify why you need access. But still, chances are that even after listening to the benefits, customers still may want to decline the request yet you shouldn’t force them to stick around, instead, you should openly give a decline option, that’s another reason why your users would trust you. 

Pro tip

Always respect your users, just as you wouldn’t appreciate anyone disturbing your personal space similarly customers wouldn’t either. Therefore, you have to find a perfect strategy that should not annoy your users with unexpected permission requests but also make it easier for you to implement your processes in order for apps to function properly.

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