All Android apps require access to certain data on the device or permissions to perform specific functions in order to operate. According to the terms of Google Play, the official marketplace for Android apps, the apps are required to declare these permissions when they submit their apps to the store. Although these permissions are clearly stated on the app’s page, these is no way to search or filter apps on Google Play based on permissions. Perhaps it hasn’t occurred to Google yet, but such a filtering scheme will enable informed users to stay out of trouble by quickly filtering out apps that request inappropriate and questionable permissions such as the ability to make calls and send SMS. Fortunately, there is a remedy – an Android app called APEFS.
APEFS, short for Android Permission filter system, is an alternative front-end to the Google Play store that lets users browse and search for apps on the marketplace, while avoiding potentially risky apps by filtering them out based on the kind of permissions they request. The app gives the user an opportunity to fit his idea of security by offering a set of filters with criteria such as whether the app requests Internet access, make phone calls or send SMS and email. APEFS then discards apps that are questionable from the perspective of the user.
On the app’s home screen are buttons for Charts, Advanced search, Installed apps and Preferences.
To browse the store, tap on “Charts” and then choose the kind of apps you are interested in – games or apps. Select a category and then choose between free or paid apps. APEFS will then list all apps available based on your choices. To set permissions filter, tap on the message that says “No filter set. All apps are displayed”, and then select the permissions you don’t want to see. APEFS will then hide apps that requests these permissions.
Apps can be filtered based on the following permission criteria:
- Cost money
- Internet and Network
- SMS and MMS
- Phone call
- System tools
- Personal information
- SD card and Phone Storage
When you open an app for review, permissions are prominently displayed. This relieves the user from having to read the sometimes complex and incomprehensible permission list and protects against unpleasant surprises. Installation of apps is carried out normally via Google Play.
The other areas on the home screen are Advanced search that lets you search apps on Google play by criteria such as free, paid, Safe Search, and sort results by relevance or popularity. APEFS can also go through all your installed apps and filter them based on the permissions you choose.
APEFS is an extremely well-made app that offers a splendid and reliable tool for all privacy and security freaks. The app clearly targets at users concerned about their privacy and security, but with malware rising on Android, Google should consider making this an inherent feature of the play store.