I'm looking at every app that has 'Microphone' permissions on my Android Pie Galaxy Note phone, accessed through:

Settings > Apps > Hamburger Menu > App Permissions > Microphone

Five apps have microphone permissions enabled, which I'll list below:

  1. Camera
  2. Duo
  3. Google Play services
  4. Messages
  5. YouTube

Note that Bixby (and associated Bixby apps) do NOT have microphone permissions. Yet, I can press the Bixby button on my phone and speak commands that Bixby will understand, and act upon. How is Bixby accessing my microphone without permission?

Furthermore, if I look at Bixby permissions, the list simply says "No permissions required".

Does Bixby indirectly obtain any permissions it needs through Google Play services? If any app can indirectly get the permissions it wants through Google Play services, what's the point of even having the any permission toggle switches, other than to decieve the end user?

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    Bixby is a Samsung app, therefore I assume you are also using a Samsung device? – Robert Oct 21 '19 at 17:11
  • @Robert Yes it is a Samsung device. Never the less, I didn't grant the Bixby app permission to use my microphone, and it is using the microphone. Isn't that the point of permissions? The only items on the phone that have access to the microphone are the items I explicitly grant permission to? – Display name Oct 21 '19 at 17:27
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    While there's some truth in using Google Play Services to "bypass" permission, I don't think Google Play Services' microphone can be used by other apps directly. On the other hand, looks like Samsung is implementing their custom permissions, which Bixby uses. Custom permission won't be listed under Android's standard permissions though. – Andrew T. Oct 21 '19 at 18:05
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    I would assume that the Bixby app is only the front end of the Bixby service embedded into your system. Therefore the microphone access is implemented in this system service which don't need any permissions because system apps can do anything they want. Therefore the answer to your question could be "Permissions are only relevant for third party apps. Apps from the phone manufacturer (if they are system apps) just ignore these permissions." – Robert Oct 22 '19 at 7:35

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