Explaining BlackBerry 10 Application Permissions

Nervous about letting that BB10 app have access to your contacts? Here's what you need to know. 

BlackBerry 10 permissions
By Simon Sage on 12 Mar 2013 02:20 pm
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When you install applications on your BlackBerry 10 device, there are certain bits of information that the app may need explicit access to in order to work. For most users, clicking through the permissions dialog window that pops up after installing from BlackBerry World is an automatic response. For the more privacy-conscious, this window can be a deal-breaker. Let's take a minute to dive into what kind of permissions apps need from your device and what they can actually do with that information.

First, let's check out the kinds of permissions that apps can call upon from the Cascades developer documentation. Some of these will allow an app to simply read the data on your device, while others enable it to write and edit information. 

  • Background processing: Perform background processing. Without this permission, your app stops all processing when the user switches focus to another app. 
  • BlackBerry Messenger: Connect to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). You can use this permission to access contact lists and user profiles, invite BBM contacts to download your app, initiate BBM chats and share content from within your app, and stream data between apps.
  • Calendar: Access the calendar on the device. This access includes viewing, adding, and deleting calendar appointments.
  • Camera: Access data that's received from the cameras on the device. With this permission, your app can take pictures, record videos, and use the flash.
  • Contacts: Access the contacts that are stored on the device. This access includes viewing, creating, and deleting contacts.
  • Device identifying information: Access unique device identifiers, such as PIN and serial number.
  • Email and PIN messages: Access the email and PIN messages that are stored on the device. This access includes viewing, creating, sending, and deleting messages.
  • Internet: Use the Internet connection from a Wi-Fi, wired, or other type of connection to access locations that are not local on the device.
  • Location: Access the current location of the device, as well as locations that the user has saved.
  • Microphone: Access the audio stream from the microphone on the device.
  • Narrow swipe up: Reduce the width of the region along the bottom bezel of the device that accepts swipe-up gestures. When you use this permission, swipe-up gestures are recognized in a more narrow area along the bottom bezel. This behavior allows apps that run in landscape orientation, such as games, to use corner regions for menus and virtual gamepads and prevents the game from inadvertently being sent to the background.
  • Notebooks: Access the content that's stored in notebooks on the device. This access includes adding entries to, and deleting entries from, the notebooks.
  • Notifications: Post notifications to the notification area of the device screen.
  • Phone: Access phone features on the device. This access includes requesting the dial pad, initiating a call, and sending DTMF tones.
  • Push: Access the Push Service with the BlackBerry Internet Service. This access allows an app to receive and request push messages. 
  • Shared files: Read and write files that are shared between all applications on the device. With this permission, your app can access pictures, music, documents, and other files that are stored on the user's device, at a remote storage provider, or on a media card.
  • Text messages: Access the text messages that are stored on the device. This access includes viewing, creating, sending, and deleting text messages.

Permissions screens in BlackBerry 10

Now, that may sure seem like a lot of options, but don't worry, most apps will only require a few (if any) of these. Also, many of these permissions are optional, and can be unchecked at the installation prompt or revoked from Application Permissions settings on your BlackBerry 10 device. Just keep in mind the app might not function as advertised if you block certain feature-vital permissions. It's also worth noting that application developers themselves do not (or at least shouldn't) remotely store and read any information gleaned from your device. Here are just a few of the app behaviors prohibited by BlackBerry

  • Write or read files outside of the application sandbox, unless via calls to public APIs.
  • Store unnecessary files in the shared directory. Files that shouldn't be stored in the shared directory include executable code (including libraries and interpreted code), temporary files, and app private files (such as files that only your app reads).
  • Change the file permissions of files.
  • Show disturbing/adult graphics or play sounds without user consent.
  • Perform information phishing. For example, asking for device password, PIN, or other confidential information.
  • Operate in a manner without user consent or authorization, such as sending information to Internet servers or listening to sockets.

In the terms of service, BlackBerry makes a point to remind developers to have a highly visible privacy policy of their own, and that they comply with local internet privacy legislation. In fact, BlackBerry World and other app stores don't tend to be especially culpable for privacy breaches by apps - most of that blame resides with the developers. 

So that's a quick look at how permissions are handled in BlackBerry 10. BlackBerry obviously tries their best to police the ecosystem, but the onus is ultimately on developers to not abuse the permissions system, otherwise they could get in hot legal water (much like Path did).

Have you guys had any bad experiences with permissions abuse? Do you regularly block permissions on your BlackBerry 10 device?

128 comments

QuIcKsIlV3r

I don't really have an opinion on the issue of needing access to my stuff, but i know others seem to be in a fit over it.

SwissCuban

I just don't authorized strangers have access to all my data, that's it. Because I don't understand why would an App need to see my contacts if I want to use the camera for example, see my private picture, PIN, and all this unnecessary information.
I downloaded a cpl of them and when I noticed that they needed more information than required, just delete the App, some of them even after I paid.

Posted via CB10

Dave79

Same here - I had to delete a few apps that I had paid for. Would be nice to have like one hour to trial and return the purchased app in Blackberry World.

D.Vader

This kind of stuff should be disclosed in the store before purchase. I had a flashlight app that needed access to my contacts. :P

cjterminator

You can apply for refund to any app if you have justified cause. This seems to be one :)

Flip4Bytes

The issue is that many of these are very general options that us devs have to deal with... You come after us with it, when in all reality, it's BlackBerry's fault. If I NEED to use the camera in a new app that I am making, I don't have the option to just choose a particular thing.. I have to choose the general "camera" permission which allows for picture, etc. etc. etc. Everyone comes after the developer, making them out to be the bad guy, but we are not out to steal your information.. We are just limited with the options that BlackBerry gives us.

Here is what us developers see, they are EXTREMELY general, we don't get any more specific options, its just check-marking one of the boxes if needed, that's the extent of control we get:

http://i.imgur.com/ID7zmVV.png

Do you want to be able to have a flashlight app? Well I'm sorry, but you have to accept the permission, nothing we can do about it, but we AREN'T out there stealing your information/pictures and emailing them to ourselves or anything. I think that people are just a little bit too uptight now-a-days.. I'm sorry, but the kind of information that you give out on social networks like facebook and such, and then a permission comes up which we cannot control, its under BLACKBERRY's control, and then you guys go and leave 1 star reviews complaining about it. Makes the devs not want to make apps for the platform if anything..

I mean you can always go over to a platform which doesn't even tell you about the permissions.. Atleast BlackBerry gives you the option and lets you select/deselect them. Just be a bit mindful, devs aren't out there to screw you over.. Personally, I want to help people, and that's why my apps are free. Sorry, long rant, but i have been affected negatively multiple times by bad reviews due to app permissions breaking my app, but they are NEEDED for the app to function. Just try and please look at it from our standpoint. There are of course exceptions to the rule though, but just use your better judgement on those.

cjterminator

I think you made a very valid point. Everybody should apply reasonable judgement to see if the permission being asked is required for application function.

Iamanonymous62

"I mean you can always go over to a platform which doesn't even tell you about the permissions."
What platform doesn't tell you about permissions?
"Personally, I want to help people, and that's why my apps are free.......I have been affected negatively multiple times by bad reviews...."
What are the negative affects to you, when your app is free and want to help people?

Flip4Bytes

"What platform doesn't tell you about permissions?"
Sorry, I may have stated that wrong. I'm sure you can control them on other platforms, but I know for a fact that with atleast everyone that I know who owns an iPhone, they don't think anything about the app permissions when downloading an app. I don't know if they are prompted with the option to toggle certain ones on and off on initial load of the app or what, but I do know that not nearly as many people complain about app permissions as people do on BlackBerry, so I've just been under the assumption that this is one of the few OS's that make it overly obvious. I can't find people complaining about app permissions about the iPhone anywhere.

"What are the negative affects to you, when your app is free and want to help people?"
The negative affect is that people leave 1 star reviews stating "the app won't load", bringing my otherwise 5 star app, down in ratings because of this. I have made a free app for people to use, you can email me if there is an issue and I will try to resolve it. But because people are so against permissions, they disable crap and then whine about the app not working. I feel like its pretty self explanatory how it affects me negatively.. I'm trying to build up a good name in BlackBerry World, and that is done by having high ratings in apps, so bunk 1 star reviews are the negative affect, which may in result stop people from downloading the app as they read a review that says "app doesn't load". Not quite sure how else to explain this?

Hope this explained the confusion.

roman_cb

Then program your apps in a way, so they still work, when there are no permissions and at least inform user about it, disable functionality.

Many bad programmed apps just crash. This speaks bands about their quality

Flip4Bytes

Easier said than done.. You say "bad programmed apps just crash." And that's not the case.. You can have an app programmed absolutely perfectly as per the guidelines supplied by BlackBerry, and it will freeze if a permission is disabled. It's simply not as easy as you are making it out to be, I suggest you try making an app before judging us about the "quality" of our apps...

haralampinedelin

Here is an idea: Put a screenshot of the permission window as one of the screenshots for the app in BB World. And in the description EXPLAIN why is every one of those items needed, also EXPLAIN which permissions are mandatory and disabling will break the app. Expecting users to write emails and ask why the app requires these permissions is unrealistic and idealistic. I did install openWhatsApp on my Z10, from their web site, since it is not available in BB world. On the website there is a section explaining why every permission is needed and what it does. Of course, the developers may be lying through their teeth and still selling my info to marketing/advertising companies, but being open is a good sign they wouldn't do it. If you are blaming blackberry for not allowing finer control, and you are seeing 1 star reviews, it is your responsibility as a developer to inform the users on the app description screen about those permissions. Blaming the users for being paranoid or dumb is never a good idea. Give them the information beforehand, those who are afraid for their privacy will read it, those who are not will not bother anyway and install it approving everything.

kupfernigk

What is missing is the granularity to allow access to contacts and calendar (for instance) but not to give add or delete permissions, and not to allow forwarding of contact information. Otherwise, installing anything which gives access to the contact list is a major security hole.

Flip4Bytes

Exactly.. But that's on BlackBerry sadly.. They need to add those features for us.

crimsonking

Well, after your post, it is possible to look at it from your prospective. Thank you for that.

Burpee DeLong

Thanks, your explaination helps me to understand a little better. I'm new to having a smart phone that isn't mostly locked down by my employer. Having my own personnel phone has opened the flood gates, so to speak, allowing me to explore new APPs. The permission requests are a little intimidating but I will relax a bit now.

newcollector

Appreciate the information. You have helped to remove a fear of an app using my contacts for pfishing.

Josh Brolin

I will delete any app that wants full access to my device, i dont care who it is, its just not worth it . So many z10 apps want full remote access to everything on the device for no legitimate reason . The good part is this is done only with permission so there is no deception.

SwissCuban

Well though luck I would say.
I have phone number, email and address, and bunch of stuff of a cpl of ppl on my phone that if by chance they get an offer for 1.75$ from "Dunno Who" from the BlackBerry World, I don't think they are going to be happy. And I'm not going to risk it.
Clean App, I get it, nosy App stays out, I rule my phone, not some developers in Kasachstan.

Posted via CB10

NoiPooP4ME

Due to all the info required by most apps that I have installed, I delete/uninstall right after installing.
No way in hell I would give some idiot app developer access to my e-mails/contact list/etc!

They should never ask for access to any info other then just our e-mail address. Anything else is invasion
of my privacy in my opinion.

Flip4Bytes

But you are missing the point.. In the developer tools, we only have the option to check a box that is "messaging" in order to be able to use emails as a necessary function in our app. The issue is that it gives us permission for a lot of other things.. The issues come down to BlackBerry having too general of options for developers.. Yet you are over there calling us "idiot app developers", it's offense, especially as we have absolutely NO CONTROL over it. Go develop an app and you'll learn.. Here is a picture of the options that developers have when making an App.. We can't just choose "allow email access" and not allow everything else.. BlackBerry made it so they are very general, there is NOTHING that we can do about it, yet you are making us out to be the bad guys.

Here are the application permissions that us "idiot app developers" get, notice how general they are? That's NOT our fault..

http://i.imgur.com/ID7zmVV.png

madx80h

Part of the problem is that many app developers aren't even giving us the choice - which is what makes it suspicious.

If within your app you have a feature that needs e-mail access, you should make that choice optional. That way I can still install the app but understand that certain features may not work correctly, like the one that needs access to e-mail.

For example, I think the CB10 app wants access to BBM, Camera, and Share Files. I denied them all, but the app still installs. I just know that if I want to use a feature dealing with BBM it won't work. Or if I goto upload a photo, that won't work either.

When an app developer removes the ability to chose, that's when us customers become suspicious. Hmm, so, why won't they let me use the app if I don't give them access to my e-mail? Must be harvesting data.. no thanks. Not that the developer is necessarily doing that, but that's the thought process when the option isn't given.

Flip4Bytes

COMPLETELY understand where you are coming from here.. And I only speak from past experience, which is that disabling BBM in my native cascades app caused it to get stuck on the loading screen.. I didn't tell the app to do this, it's just an issue that happens, that I honestly had no idea about. In order to fix it, it involved research to figure out why this was happening, and now you can disable it in my app, and you just cannot use the BBM features. My point with this case is that not all devs know exactly that disabling a permission will break their app, nor is it always easy to fix. Luckily I have a friend who was encountering the same issue and suffering from bad reviews stating that the app didn't load, which he helped me fix the issue. If the app doesn't load simply by denying a permission, it does not mean that the dev personally put that in there to do that..

Coding is weird at times, so where I understand where you're coming from, it's difficult to make sure that everything is fully functional when denying permissions, expecially if the app absolutely needs them to work. The CB10 app was developed by a few developers who really know what they are doing.. I don't think you realize how many apps are in BlackBerry World that are simply submitted by people who make them by themselves as a hobby. It's not just as simple as disabling the option, there is a LOT of learning involved.

NoiPooP4ME

I am not missing the point! I have had my info stolen and abused because of stupid general rules etc, and therefore I am entitled to my opinion. My comment wasn't meant for you if you are being an ethical person that does not abuse the info collected. My apologies to you and anyone else that isn't abusing the info, but believe me alot are abusing it and probably selling it to marketing companies etc.

It simply makes no sense for a wall paper app, to need access to Contacts, BBM, E-mails, it's a stupid wallpaper for crying out loud!!!

If you want your apps to be successful, DO NOT ask for access to completely everything! Every App should have an Option for data collection, but NEVER mandatory for it to work.

Way too many people loves to make money and develop Apps of all kinds! Hardly anyone seems to truly care enough about the privacy of the users! damn shame!!'

Flip4Bytes

Okay, and you are intelligent enough to understand that a wall paper app does not need to be connected to Contacts or Emails.. But keep in mind that BlackBerry STRESSES to developers to connect their apps with BBM. You cannot steal information having your app BBM connected, all it does is allow the user to invite their friends to download the app and such, nothing is done that you do not invoke on your own.. The ONLY thing is that when your friend goes to your BBM profile and clicks the "apps" tab, that app will show up in there.. (which mind you is immensly useful for smaller developers to spread their app) Other then that, absolutely NOTHING is shared unless you yourself invoke the "share" option within the app.. I COMPLETELY understand where you're coming from.. I was mostly affected by people hating to connect their apps to BBM, when us as devs are being told by BlackBerry themselves to DEFINITELY connect your app with BBM.. Info cannot be stolen, it just helps with our app in it being more accessible to others in finding it, EXPECIALLY if it's a free app and/or made by a small dev company/person like me.

I agree with your other points, but trust me, many more devs than you think are the same as me.. Ethical and are not trying to screw you over. Just use your best judgement, my main point is to please relax a bit with the BBM connected option, It's not dangerous in any way.. it JUST helps us spread our app to more people.

kupfernigk

Blackberry need to make this point to users as part of the install process.

It bugs me that they have BBM, but seem unable to explain to the wider public what the benefits are compared to, say, email. Mind you, as an enterprise software developer I am constantly frustrated with how people seem unable to explain features and benefits. I just found a customer who had created a large security hole in our software by electing to give all users access to the user database (which you cannot do if you follow our instructions) via a third party application. The IT department didn't understand why this was a bad idea, and they are supposed to know these things.

CDM76

I believe it is you who is missing the point.

I had a silent photo app request access to my BBM, contacts, shared files, camera and Device Identifying Information. Now I can understand needing access to my files and camera but WHY would they need device identifying info, BBM and contact access ? Not a chance they are getting it. I deleted the app and then downloaded one that does the same thing but only requested access to the pertinent parts of my phone as they relate to the app. Maybe some of these are people porting Android software and just choosing all options so can be lazy ?

Either way, at the end of the day its my phone and if developers want their app on it (and my $$ for their apps) they will find a way to only request relevant access.

Flip4Bytes

I am not missing the point... I too have that app, and it requires that you connect to BBM access because it is a FREE app.. ALL that is done when it connects to BBM is makes it easier to be shared with friends, which is immensely important with a free app. Simply deny the permissions of "Shared Files" and "Identifying Information" and call it a day, if those MAJOR things cause the app to break, than delete it, but it means that in some way, they are being used for the app to work.. Simply EMAIL THE DEV and ask them as to why you need those permissions. Sometimes devs are lazy, and other times they are simply confused as to which permissions they need to have for their app to run. When it comes to BBM, expecially with free apps, please understand that they are in NO WAY taking your personal information.. I explained the BBM permission in a later comment, and you replied to it, so I hope you can atleast understand the BBM reasoning, and that's all that I am really fighting for. I agree about your other points, just don't accept them, if the app runs, perfect.. if not, email the dev and ask why, or delete the app.. You have many options.

haralampinedelin

You should have realized by now that users have much better things to do than email devs and ask why a flashlight app needs acces to their contacts or device ID. I mostly uninstall apps that need ridiculous permissions, some people do that and leave a 1 star negative review. It is their right, as frustrating as it may be for you.

xenrobia

I'm constantly blocking permissions requested by apps when they seem totally irrelevant to the function of the app. Like a Flashlight app that requests access to Shared files, Device Identifying Information, etc. is totally not what an app like that should need to function properly and yet such requests are quite common.

CDM76

EXACTLY !!!

And if these developers want our $ for their apps they are going to have to learn that fast. Or maybe its a conspiracy so that developers can say "but no one is using our BB apps so we aren't going to make any more" ??? haha

Flip4Bytes

And that's fine.. 90% of the time, it's the devs being lazy and assuming that they will need "Shared Files" in order for the picture to be saved, which isn't the case. And also, Device Identifying Information can be used to get the phone's OS version and such upon emailing them from within the app, and other things like that.. They are little things that the devs may have done, does not mean it was 100% intentional. Just be safe about it and deny those permissions that you feel uncomfortable with, but I can assure you that a lot of the time, a permission is needed, but it is just not obvious as to how.. Email the dev and ask them, it's that simple!

ctfish

It would be nice to have a better understanding of what the app can and cannot do with any of the information. As it stands now there is no means of determining what the app can in fact do with the different permissions. It seems to be Carte Blanche. It is hard to know of an app needs access to files simply to store something like a "Cookie" or progress in a game, or whether it can change, modify other files. Of particular issue is when it asks for permissions to contacts. That is really, none of their business and really bothers me when an app ask for permission, wherein I delete it. Obviously if that is core to its functionality that is a different matter.

I do believe this needs to be better vetted. As a business idea. I would pay for a service that vets these permissions and gives an in-depth analysis of what the ap is in fact doing.

In fact if BlackBerry World created a "Trusted by BlackBerry" section or moniker for apps, I would pay a premium to both the developer and BlackBerry. This would obviously be different than the "Built for BlackBerry".

But the current state is completely useless and provides no comfort for the end user.

This could be a real point of differentiation for BlackBerry World and would build upon their security brand. The current state makes me feel as if at any point if I agree to something that all of my security and information may be compromised.

So I do take this seriously and I feel this needs to be addressed quickly, and effectively.

Posted via CB10

tekware

Well said. I don't have a problem with apps that REQUIRE access to certain types of data asking for it. I have a problem with apps that refuse to work or even enter the program in any way if I refuse said access or only give partial access. Those apps are promptly deleted. BlackBerry could certainly help to alleviate user fears by ensuring that certain apps have been vetted by BlackBerry.

Flip4Bytes

As an app developer, I can tell you that simply making it so my app loaded without a BBM connection involved a lot of research and was a pain in the butt to implement. BlackBerry recommends that all apps are BBM connected, and BFB apps must be BBM connected, so keep in mind that making it so all apps work flawlessly/load without the proper permissions is not always an option.. People don't ever seem to look at it from the App developer's point of view. Sure, some app developers abuse it, must connect to BBM or else you can't use, but honestly, some other devs are out there who simply have a lot of difficulties making an app work without proper permissions & at times there is nothing that you can do to fix this without accepting the permission. And honestly, I am willing to bet a lot of money that it's the later situation over the app developer just trying to be an @ss and trying to control you.

xenrobia

From an app users point of view, we have absolutely no idea what is going on at the code level. I have noted that some app developers have taken to explaining their permission access requests in the description of their apps on BlackBerry world and this really helps. There's nothing worse then buying an app just to get hit with a bunch of weird access request and no explanation as to why they are needed. Hey, we're BlackBerry users, so security is a part of our mentality - along with a healthy dose of paranoia.

Flip4Bytes

Yes, I have noticed this too, and I have begun doing it aswell. It seems to be the only way around it, and I hope that BlackBerry sees this and adds a section in BlackBerry World where devs can throw that information instead of just hidden in the long description.

Flip4Bytes

I'm simply fighting for the BBM access as it gives us absolutely no personal information, yet people are under the impression that we get all of their personal information and friend's information by accepting this option.. Which is simply not the case.

xenrobia

And I agree that it is basically the app user that is ignorant of the implications associated with granting certain permissions to the apps. But then again, BlackBerry hasn't done a very good job educating us either. From BlackBerry's perspective, I imagine they are trying to find a balance between a highly configurable system for the technically adept users and a system that is easily configured for the technically challenged users (who we will assume are in the vast majority). What I didn't know, until I read this post that is, is that each individual app is sandboxed. Now if I, and probably other users, had a better idea of how this "sandboxing" functioned in relation to the overall OS, then I might feel more comfortable granting permissions to the various apps out there.

Simon Sage

I think the app vetting you're talking about here is basically what the Trend Micro partnership is going to be about, though I wouldn't be surprised if it was just folded into the Built for BlackBerry program. 

xenrobia

I almost forgot about the Trend Micro partnership. Thanks for the reminder - another good move by BlackBerry.

ThaMunsta

Seriously thank you. I have seen so many low rated apps because they have access to files or something... If the app saves settings, I expect it to need to store a settings file somewhere... People need to chill out. People act like if an app says it has access to files it intends on accessing EVERY SINGLE file on the phone

dguy123

Apps don't need file permissions to play in their own sandbox...

So if none of an apps features is to view /manipulate files I point it at, then it shouldn't require file access.

It really irks me when an app won't launch if it doesn't have permissions for areas it has nothing to do with.

Posted via CB10

Flip4Bytes

Ask the BlackBerry developers then.. Because if you add BBM support, and they disable those permissions, your app will freeze. UNLESS the dev goes out of their way to add a fix to this which is not overly obvious. This is an issue with the coding, it wasn't a "poorly designed app" its just what happens. There are some stupid things that happen when disabling permissions IF they are actually used in the app, coding is not always straightforward, there are some holes in the documentation notes, and fixes are required at times, for example the BBM permissions.

CJH_

Why won't some apps run if you deny them BBM permissions?

Posted via CB10

billsterjito

because most apps have the ability to invite others to use the app. It's not about your info. it's about you liking the app and thinking your sister or good buddy might like it.

CB10 App, Z10

bbquincar

im a jnr dev and i hate that ppl give bad reveiw before contacting the dev to ask why.
based on how the app is set up you can change that now so most dev will be updating this function. http://twocasualcoders.com/2012/11/14/qml-and-bbm-together-at-last-part-2/
But BBM is the core of BlackBerry.
BlackBerry should make it mandatory to have a BBM ID if you don't use it who cares but you shouldnt be able to deny its install. even if you dont share are use bbm it is what makes BlackBerry BlackBerry

Flip4Bytes

EXACTLY, THANK YOU

People don't understand that we weren't out to get them.. They recently updated the notes to allow for the app to not crash upon denying those permissions.. People ALWAYS assume that it's the devs coming at them, but it's BlackBerry's fault at times.. The documentation is not absolutely perfect.

Also, +1 on the contacting before bad review.. Cannot stand that.. I will legit reply to you within 30 minutes, just send the damn email and I'll help you with whatever you need help with!

haralampinedelin

If you cannot stand bad reviews, maybe you should quit being an app developer.

Flip4Bytes

Please stop being so ignorant.. You are adding nothing to this discussion.

Flip4Bytes

two reasons:

1) it was an initial bug in the system, and BlackBerry's fault. The coding was not sufficient that if BBM was disabled, the app would not load, simply an issue in their coding. There is a workaround now, but not every dev knows about it

2) it could be a free app, and the dev has under the circumstances of it being free, that the user should connect it to BBM. All this does is help spread the app to BBM contacts as it posts the app to your BBM profile's "apps" section which just lists installed apps. It will NEVER post anything to your BBM without you invoking it within the app. It's simply so you can quickly share the app with BBM friends and such.

haralampinedelin

Then the developer should make an explicit note in the app description that because the app is free, it needs to be spread through BBM. Not whine that people are giving bad reviews, are they supposed to be psychic to know that? Oh, and btw, there are some free apps out there that don't require BBM permissions. CB10 app for example has that option, I disabled it at install, app has been working flawlessly ever since.

Flip4Bytes

Seriously.. Just responding to every single one of my comments.. I mentioned that I DO have the permissions explained in my description, but I STILL received the reviews, so maybe you should read before you go accusing people.. I also said that there was an issue with BBM in which it breaks it if disabled, BUT THERE IS A FIX, and it is not an obvious fix at all.. The devs hired to make the CB10 app are VERY good at what they do, maybe you shouldn't assume that ever single app developer is an expert.. Seriously, chill out dude.. You seriously think that people like you make devs want to begin developing for this OS or make them want to stay developing for it? Seriously..

haralampinedelin

Yes, seriously, just like you are saying hundreds of times that there was a fix, which most developers didn't know about, so it's apparently not their fault and their responsibility, but it is somehow the users responsibility to know what each permission means or to write emails for some random free app with many alternatives . Why didn't developers send emails to BB to ask what is the fix? See, it goes the other way. You think lousy developers like those who don't know how to code or how the system works are the reason people are comimg to blackberry??? People like that are doing more harm than good and it would be a blessing if they stopped putting out incompetently written apps. But those that are realy dangerous are the ones who think the users should change, not them. Or that BB should send a software developer to sit down with them and explain how everything is done, when there is multiple evidence it is entirely possible to have working apps written by GOOD developers (accuweather, battety guru, cb10 etc). Also, i don't really know what app of yours has an explanation of permissions, and when did you put it there, before or after people started giving you bad reviews.

Posted via CB10

billsterjito

This is the best blog I've seen since we started BlackBerry 10. I do feel that there is a fair amount of hesitation from users to 'give away ' their personal l information. I can appreciate that. But ( as a non - Dev) and only a user I see the value in permissions. Dev's I believe need to know who their dealing with as well as who their base users are. I'm not sure weather all the information is pertinent but I do know that the they know the more we get. The bottom line is if you have trust in developers they will deliver, if we as users deny the application they will attempt to sell their products elsewhere.
and before you decide to roast me!!
I am just a user with an opinion!
Please
be nice!

CB10 App, Z10

CDM76

Many BB owners are security concious by nature. It is often one of the things that brought us to BB or kept us with BB.

Flip4Bytes

Hey, noone "roasted you". We completely understand where our users are coming from, we just want to get our side of the argument out here.. We don't have complete control always, and to get a simple feature in our app, it sometimes takes a general permission to be accepted, and there is nothing we can do abot that simply due to BlackBerry not giving the devs enough control. I agree with your feelings wholeheartedly, just deny permissions that you feel are invasive, or PLEASE email the developer to ask them as to why they need what permissions. Noone seems to ever email the developer, when it is immensely useful to us in reality. Please keep this in mind :)

haralampinedelin

"and there is nothing we can do abot that"

except write in the description why are those permissions needed, instead of waiting for users to write emails. People are concerned about privacy (the ones who give you 1 star rating and uninstall right after that), and you expect them to send an email to someone who they think needs their info in order to spam their inbox or sell the email to some third party? Not gonna happen.

Flip4Bytes

READ WHAT I SAID, THE PERMISSIONS ARE EXPLAINED IN THE DESCRIPTION, PEOPLE JUST DON'T CARE TO READ.. Jesus dude you seriously responded to EVERY SINGLE one of my comments complaining about the same thing.. Watch what you say, because people like you SERIOUSLY make devs not want to continue making apps on this platform.. Ungrateful, acting like it's so easy being a dev..

haralampinedelin

Trust me dude, i won't lose sleep AT ALL if you quit being a developer and became a carpenter or something.

Posted via CB10

Gator99

I trust BlackBerry's secure OS, and that's as far as it goes. Nobody needs (or will receive permission to) access to my personal information. Hope some of those shady developers are reading this clearly.

Posted via CB10

Ben1232

Some of these requests are ridiculous. I've allowed some good app - odd permissions but when I get my Q10 (business phone) I won't be allowing any.

As someone above said, with the permissions set to accept, what are the devs able to do with the information?

Gator99

Correction to my last post; I hope all developers are reading me clearly.

Posted via CB10

EeyoreRulez

Yes, I had a bad experience with contacts data mining. I am now SUPER cautious to never allow apps to both have Internet and Contacts access. What I find to be most frustrating, is when a paid app insists on having Internet and Contacts access which cannot be turned off. I've found that apps rarely if ever will tell you that they are going to require whatever access permission prior to purchase.

bbbruva

This doesn't really help anyone who knows exactly what the permissions are asking and by saying that the developer "shouldn't" use that access doesn't mean they don't/won't. That's the problem, it's not about them following a code that can be used if they dishonour it. It's about them having access they do not need in the first place. I not have to worry about that as far as I know in other ecosystems so why would that be the case in BB? These permissions should be stated before it's downloaded and it also does come into play after deleting a paid for app.

Kendall Oei

You DO have to worry about it in other ecosystems. BB 10 is smart enough to ask before it allows.

bbbruva

Thanks for explaining that, the assumption would be that if it doesn't ask it doesn't give access. I know now that is the wrong assumption. The dev who wrote above us really clarified things as well, I just believe this way brings up a lot of questions that the average user may not understand (and like me assume isn't the case on other platforms). Big name devs you will give access to because they are the most scrutinized apps, this kind of thing can hurt smaller devs because people haven't built that trust with them unfortunately.

dejongj

Whilst I agree that apps need to save stuff, the majority like games have no business requiring access to the shared file store. No need what so ever, that is just lazy development packaging of the app and yes I vote them down for it.

Posted via CB10

3xberry

I concur with virtually everything posted. If I feel an app needs certain access to function such as camera and docs, like a PDF scanner, I will allow. If an app requests access to something unrelated, it's a no. If the app won't function without granting the access, it gets deleted.
I take ownership over my device and data.

From Z to U via CB10

flyersfan76

I do not even let facebook have access to my contacts or calendars. I just do not see a need.

kupfernigk

Of course, if everybody was reasonably security conscious around Facebook, Zuckerberg would be trying to make a living shining shoes. Their whole business model is based on getting you to tell them stuff nobody in their right mind would entrust to a company.

bodybyviJoe

Thanks for all the helpful comments. Great thread too.

Posted via CB10

Flip4Bytes

Most annoying thing ever as a developer.. I have the BBM connected as the only permission, and those who didn't accept it, broke the app from loading, and those who downloaded the app and did this, just left me 1 star reviews that it didn't work. All I can say is PLEASE contact us within BlackBerry World if there is an issue like the app not loading.. 99% of the time it's because you did not approve the permissions that problems arise, so instead of giving a crappy review due to you breaking it, at least give us the chance to explain/fix the issue. That's the only thing I hate about these permissions.. Please.. the contact support button is there in BlackBerry World for a reason, use it!

Posted via CB10

madx80h

Your application, (unless specifically intended to just interact with BBM) - shouldn't break or not load if access to BBM isn't granted... I never give apps access to BBM. I'd give you 1 star too if I paid for it and it wouldn't function because I don't want it connected with BBM.

Obviously, if it was some kind of BBM interaction tool that would be different. If we're talking about anything else - like a note taking app, compass, game, whatever - it shouldn't break if I refuse connection to BBM.

Flip4Bytes

While I can see where you are coming from, I want to let you know that 1) My app is free, 2) Noone has ever contacted me through the contact option on BBW to tell me what the issue was (being that they denied BBM and that it didn't load) so me figuring out the issue took much longer than it should have, as I had no knowledge of it, and 3) I really feel like people do not understand what connecting an app to BBM actually does.. Also, I never put the setting in there to break when it wasn't connected to BBM.. It's just an issue with the coding that BlackBerry provides us with.. It breaks the app when disabled unless you do a workaround (which I did once finding out that the problem was the permissions, but again, that was VERY time consuming in figuring out and finding a fix for it.)

So my main point about BBM connected, is that I feel very few people know what connecting an app to BBM even does, so I'll break it down in hopes to enlighten more people who are under the impression that we are taking your info or something.

So starting off, I just want to say that for an app to be Built for BlackBerry, it must be connected to BBM, that's a requirement from BlackBerry, and they also recommend that apps connect to BBM as they are spread 10x as much as non BBM connected apps. So this sounds absurd to allow an app to connect to your BBM, but that's because we are all used to OS7 and lower.. What the hell is the point of connecting an app to BBM with that old an OS..? Well not much.. Because BBM wasn't what it has turned into now with BB10.

1.) We cannot access your contacts or information, or anything crazy about your BBM

2.) NOTHING can be posted to your BBM, status updates, etc. without you actually invoking the action from within the app.

3.) The ONLY thing that it does, is list the app in your BBM profile, which can be seen if someone clicks your profile, and then clicks the "apps" tab.. So it's tucked out of the way, but it helps out immensely in the app being shared and seen.

4.) At the end of the day, BBM is no longer what it used to be.. It's trying to be more like it's own social network, like Steam (for the computer) where you can connect to your friends playing games, and see what games/apps they have installed via your profile. BlackBerry WANTS devs to have their apps BBM connected, whether its a fart app, or an app that absolutely NEEDS BBM to function. The point is, connecting the app to BBM is in absolutely no way intrusive, and does not do anything unless you click within an app "share this with a friend" which you can BBM message someone to download it, or "update my status". NOTHING is done without you actually invoking it, and we have no access to personal information, so people, please relax a bit with the BBM permissions.. It helps us small devs get our app to be seen more, EXPECIALLY if the app is free.

CDM76

What I am hearing is that your App Description does not clearly articulate the need for BBM and WHY. Update your description to include this info and you will see ratings increase as users will expect this requirement and it wont be a surprise to them upon install. Simple solution. Stop being lazy and blaming the users ... create a solution for yourself.

Flip4Bytes

"What I am hearing is that your App Description does not clearly articulate the need for BBM and WHY. Update your description to include this info and you will see ratings increase as users will expect this requirement and it wont be a surprise to them upon install. Simple solution. Stop being lazy and blaming the users ... create a solution for yourself."

Is that really what you are hearing? Okay, at this point this is just absolutely ridiculous.. MY APP DOES EXPLAIN in the description, but it's instead the USERS who are being lazy about reading it, because simply very few people read the description anyways.. I don't have anything else to say about this comment as it's simply 100% not true.

haralampinedelin

Care to explain then how are 5 of my apps, includin CB10, working perfectly fine with "connect to BBM" disabled?

Flip4Bytes

BECAUSE YOU DON'T READ.. I said there is a workaround if you are experienced enough to find it, but it's broken natively unless you go out of your way to figure out the solution.. Not every dev is like the professional ones hired to make the apps like CB10.. Just drop it dude, seriously..

haralampinedelin

So some developers suck donkey balls and are blatantly incompetent, but thats's ok apparently. It is the user's fault you see...

Posted via CB10

xamdam

Some apps you can't even choose to uncheck these apps no matter how good they are I immediately remove then.

Posted via CB10, BB10, Z10

iririr

Great article...Can you explain why some apps let you choose which permissions to allow and some don't when you install them.

Flip4Bytes

If they DON'T give you the option, it means that they simply use no permissions. BlackBerry will never make you install an app without going through the accepting permissions process, IF they have permissions.

Wayne King3

How can I remove specific access contacts etc from third party application? Within the settings this appears not to work on bb10?

Posted via CB10

AlfredFettucine

You will have to go under;
...Settings
...Security and Privacy
...Application Permissions
And then choose your individual apps to change permissions granted.

bbquincar

I could make a flashlight app
put advertisement on it

I would have to add internet permission as well as location permission and based on what hear from folks here some ppl the would delete the app becasue of this. damm even if it works well.

then id add bbm share/connect
and have a nice pull down menu for the top with the option to email the developer about concern are support. I would make this auto populate the info eg: version and os reason so i would have to write back 2 to 3 emails to find out what os or version the person is using and then explain how to find this info.

Please remember 99% of the dev just want to make apps and make money.

dguy123

So if not given permission, when launched your app could put up a screen describing REQUIRED perms and what they're needed for.

If the user doesn’t want to grant them, that's their prerogative. They can choose the pay version without adds.

Devs need to be respectful of users who are concerned with security and don't open up their information easily.

Posted via CB10

Flip4Bytes

You can't make a screen pop up before the permissions screen.. BlackBerry makes that one pop up first, and nothing we can do about it. Issue is, if someone is on the permissions screen 90% of the time they will just deny and uninstall the app before even opening it if they don't like the permissions, so that makes this fix really not do anything as those who want to see it, will never actually see it..

haralampinedelin

you can put as many screenshots as you want in the description.

Flip4Bytes

And people don't look at half the pictures or read the description, so no.

haralampinedelin

They look at the first picture, and mostly read the description, so yes.

Posted via CB10

rarch1

Good to know

Posted via CB10

len5

Let's hope the permission system in BB10 works better than the one in BB07. Most of the time when I limit permissions to any app I download from BB it screws up my 9930. Not sure why not giving email access to a flashlight app or weather app would mess with the entire system.

len5

I don't care if the app is free or not. If it requires my BBM, contacts, ect to run I delete it. Simple.

Danny James

This is hilarious. In fact I have never been so sorry to be a human being in this modern world, ever.

You guys are just so... There isn't even a word for you.

So you will stop a developer from accessing something that he alone above says and shows you why, but you're quite happy for your government to know where you are 24/7. You're happy to hand over information over the phone to people who say "I'm from Rogers what's your cell number for verification "

Then you have the audacity to blame the dev.

Congrats on making it clear that no new dev can come and create apps that maybe require a tiny flash but need to access the camera. Way to f#$,k it up people.

Honestly you people deserve to be shot and then hung.

Just an fyi you are aware blackberry see and watch everything you can do on your phone with qnx. And to think otherwise is just moronic.

So again, way to show all the keen developers out there (Skype Netflix) that even though they put 1000 hrs into an app. Your not guna install it cus your scared someone might get your mom's phone number.

Lol

Posted via CB10

Iamanonymous62

".... In fact I have never been so sorry to be a human being in this modern world, ever."

You need to get out more, or at least start watching the news, if talking about cell phones can make you feel that way!

CDM76

"Just an fyi you are aware blackberry see and watch everything you can do on your phone with qnx. And to think otherwise is just moronic."

So BlackBerry's worldwide employee base of 12,000 employees are going to monitor and watch every single BB phone every single second of the day in every single country for all 80 million BB users ?

Sorry ... who is the moron ?

kupfernigk

I am afraid that you are the kind of developer my lecturers warned me about in college. You fundamentally don't understand that the customers pay you, and your job is to meet their requirements. You don't have any special rights because you develop software. And if other people abuse the trust of users, that doesn't give you the right to do it.
If you are writing software for a platform whose raison d'etre is security, and you cannot find a secure way to do what you want to do, you do not release it regardless. You either push it up the line and wait for a fix, or you don't do it.

Duffman19

I stand behind flip4bytes. I personally only install apps from developers I recognize or can at least Google search on.

All you others paranoid and bugging out must have developed many mobile apps to be so knowledgeable.

Some developers are lazy, probably just select permissions without testing, however others probably have tested and without those permissions the app doesn't perform. Then people will bitch more, this app doesn't work derpppp

Posted via CB10 from my BlackBerry zed one zero

Flip4Bytes

Absolutely 100%!

I obviously have very close friends who are devs too, and we all test our apps with/without permissions before submitting them to BlackBerry World. We know how big the "permissions" issue is among people, so we make sure the permissions are absolutely necessary. As does not mean every dev will go out and do it, many are indeed lazy and are just checking random things that they assume they need.

Step 1) If it's BFB *(Built for BlackBerry)* then you should understand that the permissions are most definitely needed..BlackBerry Personally checked out these apps, and made sure there is no way they break any privacy issues or anything.. In sense, that means they aren't stealing personal info.

Step 2) If it's a dev who has like 30 ported android apps, or the app is really crappy looking, then simply be cautious.

Step 3) EMAIL the Dev and simply ASK them :)

Just use your best judgement people :)

haralampinedelin

There are two options here:
1. Users will continue to unistall your apps and give you 1 star ratings without contacting you at all
2. You will magically "educate" users through forums and blogs, that they should email you and ask

Guess which one is more likely.

Flip4Bytes

Seriously, drop it dude..

devcellent

Excellent post. It clarifies all the permissions very well to the users. I find that most of the free apps out there asks for unnecessary permissions. I suspect it mostly for marketing purposes for their paid apps. I hope that the contacts are not abused in any other manner.

pandapurple

You know what, you can't even insult users for deleting an app once we realise that it requires those permission. I, for one welcome apps that would make our lives easier or purely for entertainment. Black sheep out there doesn't make the whole herd black. You have to see the perspective of the users that we do want our privacy. Why be so arrogant to think that we would be so careful with our phones but be free to share information on social media and government bodies?

I respect that you took the trouble to explain and that sheds the light of what BlackBerry must do in order to find the balance for developers and users. It will be the death of BlackBerry World going forward if there is continued resentment over this issue.

Posted via CB10

Shifty88

I've had issues with Jared Co in the past. I narrowed the problem down to their flashlight app. They'd collected and sold my phone number and all my contacts' phone numbers and my friends and myself were being spammed fake Apple ads. Uninstalled the app and never another problem.

Posted via CB10

Beakman

Oooooooo, he went to Jared!

Simon Sage

I swore off Jared Co. back when they tried to sue other flashlight app developers on some bogus patent grounds.

nt300

I've noticed one app which required access to my contacts in order to function. Since when does a game need such access?

Duffman19

I will never use Jared Co again. Constant spam once you install one app.

Posted via CB10 from my BlackBerry zed one zero

deltact

It's examples like this that make some users very very cautious. Fortunately, I think that these negative examples are few and far between. Most devs, like Flip4Bytes and bbqquincar, are honest and are just running into a permission system that is not granular enough. It seems like the permission system is between PlayBook OS (not granular enough for my likes) and BB7 (too granular for the casual user).

Prudent users should be aware and concerned about app permissions. Information and personal identity is worth a lot...the computer viruses seem to have shifted from physical destruction to data destruction to making the OS unusable to botnets and now to information theft. On the other hand, it shouldn't have to fall to legit devs to keep explaining why their apps need certain permissions and for idiot users to wreck their ratings because they don't have the patience to tweak the permission settings.

Flip4Bytes

I agree completely with this comment. Guys, if you feel really sketchy about a particular permission, and it isn't explained anywhere.. Don't be afraid to contact the dev from BlackBerry World to ask for an explanation. If they never reply to you, then take that with a grain of salt, but if they do, I'm sure they will explain to you EXACTLY why they need what permissions. Just use your better judgement people! :)

kgwhat

Ahhhh thank you CB for bringing this issue to light as I posted a thread about it last week. As the Dev above wrote this is a BB issue. Clearly they need to do a better job of breaking down the permissions so the Dev's can be efficient at developing. All they need to do from the screen above is break down the categories better. Also, while doing that they can allow the dev to post why a permission is needed which then can be posted in the description of the app. Which in turn saves people money in deleting apps that request ridiculous permissions because BB is a bit lazy in clearing up the whole permission stuff from the development stage. I don't download any apps that REQUIRE unnecessary permissions to run, give me the option. However, as the dev said this can be tedious, so it's on BB the company that preaches security from the mountain tops to clean this up at the development level. Gonna take while to happen as they are trying to get the Z10 out the door for America and the Q. Another issue are the cuts to staff which is why the Q is late and some apps are below par

Shakiii

I feel as if not only is my privacy being violated but as well as all my contacts on my phone, be it BBM contacts or even contacts in my phone book. I've been turned away from so many apps due to this.

Posted via CB10

pwa

I believe that apps where you cannot change the permission settings are not native BlackBerry apps but Android ports. Maybe somebody more knowledgeable than me can verify this.

Posted via CB10

pwa

One of the things missing on this thread is the comparison to what an apple or android app is allowing in terms of permissions and what kind of user choice there is. I bet that they just don't ask for permission and will have access in any case for whatever is needed to make the app work. Who in the know can verify this or comment?

Posted via CB10

AlfredFettucine

Having come from the iOS, I was never asked for permissions to install an app. However as others here are doing, I would google both app and developer to know what I was getting into. I'll be doing the same here with BB. Also of importance, leave comments after downloading apps from BB World, so we all know what is going on and if app is good to download or pay for.

DuexNoir

My main problem is with apps that ask for unreasonable access to my phone. For apps like CB10 which has a forum and social connectivity, asking for BBM access is understandable, and even when I deny the access the app still works. I find apps from reputable developers often ask for specific access that is understandable for the function of the app. This is not often the case with lesser known devs. Most devs don't have any ill intentions and it is unfortunate they are caught up in all the suspicion as well but users are wary because anyone anywhere can create and submit an app. It's not like BlackBerry does background checks on the submitters. Users will only be more wary as we store more and more important info on our phones like credit card information and such.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10

DuexNoir

Just want to add that it may be nice for average users to have something similar to BlackBerry Balance in that we can store highly confidential info on one secure part of our phone and have the other side "Open access" and the two sides are completely independent of each other. That would ease many security conscious users.

Posted via CB10 on my Z10

kupfernigk

This is something I think carriers might consider as a value-added service. It would certainly differentiate Blackberry and I imagine a lot of small businesses would like the idea a lot.

Rootbrian

I'm not too anal about application permissions. I tend to adjust them sometimes and if the app breaks, I readjust it so it fixes what I broke by changing something.

stancassidy

One question about security : if I give permission to an app to access my files and in the same time I encrypt the phone and the memory card, is my phone still vulnerable?

Posted via CB10

TheCLEANSER

This article does a great job of explaining what the permissions are asking for but please try and tell us why a particular app need access to my personal files and contacts and why I should just blindly trust it and how can it be guaranteed that it won't be used for abuse at a future date

Posted via CB10

crimsonking

You nailed it brother, exactly what's missing in the article... The tools that will hopefully help us to make better decisions regarding permissions.