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I would like to get the better overview of applications reading and writing my phonebook i.e. contacts. TrueCaller incidence shows that I do not have sufficient understanding and full control of the phone itself. Similarly, my recent OnePlus data collection incidence belongs to the same category.

I think the very basic feature of listing all applications that can access (read and write) your phonebook can be a good start to eliminate unnecessary apps there.

OS: Android 7.1.1 and Oreo
Phone: Oneplus 3T

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There are several places explaining app permissions and their possible implications, or helping you find "privacy friendly" apps. One example for that is my own Android site¹:

  • the permission overview lists permissions and tries to shed some light on what they are intended for, and how they might potentially be abused
  • the app listings show the number of requested permissions next to each app name, and draw a red frame around that number if there could be any risk. Additionally, "monitor icons" show if an app contains trackers like ads or analytics modules (one monitor item per module detected²). Clicking the app name (Javascript required for that part) reveals details – including what I call "concerns" (combinations of permissions which might raise concerns).
  • being part of the app listings, the Permission Checker list shows you a few candidates you can use to check apps you've already installed on your device. They give different details on the permissions used and their explanations. Ad-Modules and Privacy Checker again give you details on what modules are used, what they are for, and sometimes also some background on the networks behind them (and their "trustworthiness").
  • the app search lets you search apps by categories and permissions – to eg. find dialer apps without Internet access, or inventory apps with NFC; you decide the combination. It also lets you filter out (or restrict to) paid apps, and more. Note it of course is restricted to apps listed on the site – which currently covers about 14k apps available on Google Play, F-Droid, my repo, Aptoide and/or the Xposed repo.
  • the article section gives useful background on things like above mentioned "tracker modules" and other privacy related issues.

Disclosure again in bold: that site is owned by me, was built by me, and still is maintained by me. Which somehow makes it a one-man show. I try my best to keep it up-to-date (applists update themselves automatically) and bring in new/fresh content, but I have my limits :)

Last but not least a general hint: to ensure as best as possible you only get "clean apps", use F-Droid as your app source whenever possible. They have very strict rules to ensure the quality (one reason their collection is not that big). My own F-Droid repo doesn't reach that level (always check with its web browser interface for details the F-Droid client app does not show here) – it's rather intended as a "stepping stone" for projects not (yet) meeting the F-Droid criteria fully.


¹ originally setup to redirect the off-topic "is there an app…" questions here with a useful hint
² a feature provided thanks to AppBrain who granted me access to their data

  • Is there any tool that does not require much permissions to do these checkups? – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Nov 30 '17 at 8:02
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    Depends on your ROM. LineageOS has a Privacy Guard built-in that can do that, for example. If your ROM doesn't feature such a thing, see my 2nd and 3rd bullet point again (and follow their links). – Izzy Nov 30 '17 at 8:27
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You might try the following app from play store that lets you view permissions in different ways

Permission Explorer

  • This is a good proposal! I am not using root so I cannot install the proposed Xprivary app in comments there. - - I still would like to get a better overview about what kind of rights each app has and how they can affect the privacy. Now, the app only lists the amount of privacy options per app. – Léo Léopold Hertz 준영 Oct 17 '17 at 14:42
  • I don't see it asking for any permission be it root or normal app permissions, i would suggest you to try once properly 😉 – Harsh Gundecha Oct 17 '17 at 15:10

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