This is a “heads up” for consumers who currently own an Android or are thinking about buying the latest version.  Google has now removed from the Android 4.4.2 update an application that was definitely privacy enhancing.  The feature was the AppOps interface and it’s now gone.

As Lucien Constantin explains in a recent article, Google said that the AppOps was “experimental” and wasn’t supposed to have been released (www.csoonline.com; “EFF criticizes Google for removing ‘vital privacy feature’ with Android 4.4.2”; December 13).  That’s a shame because AppOps allowed users to have more tailored control over the permissions they set for applications.

What did AppOps do?  It was an interface that allowed users to withdraw permissions they gave to applications when installing them.  Before AppOps, Android users had to choose between giving an application all permissions the application requested or not using the application.

As Mr. Constantin wrote, AppOps wasn’t directly accessible to Android users but it could easily be accessed by installing 3rd party applications such as Permission Manager or AppOps Launcher from Google Play.  As he reported, the Electronic Frontier Foundation suggested that Google make whatever refinements Google deems needed to AppOps so that it can again be made available to consumers.

AppOps was a very helpful privacy option for Android users.  Let’s hope Google reconsiders and brings back AppOps in an even better version.