I am looking for a list of android permissions and what can be done once a certain permission is granted.

Background: Many apps require permissions which at first sound very intimidating, like READ_PHONE_STATE. Looking at http://developer.android.com/reference/android/Manifest.permission.html it states "Allows read only access to phone state." but this clarifies nearly nothing.

Do I need to dive into the code, presuming that part is available?



2 Answers 2


You already figured it out: when you write an Android app, you can do operations which requires permissions. The complete list is the link you have given : http://developer.android.com/reference/android/Manifest.permission.html. Most of the permissions listed are very explicit for developpers, but for the user, some can sound mysterious.

To take your example, the READ_PHONE_STATE permission is mostly used to have access to the phone ID. It allows developpers to know how many users (phones) they have. But this permissions also let us know if you are receiving a call or not to react in consequence (if it is a music application: reduce the volume), and things like that.

But, for 2 different Android apps, you can see the same permissions with 2 different uses of it. For large permission as WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE (to write on SD card), one can just write its settings files, the other can put a malware script on it... The only way to know exactly what an app does with the permissions, is to see the code. But, in most case, if it is a non-open-source app, you can't...

I hope I answer your question. If not, I will try to give details with your more precise question.


  • As a rule of thumb if you can provide a more detailed answer always do. Oh, and that list is not complete primarily because apps can define new permissions.
    – user13391
    Jun 21, 2012 at 9:44
  • @RichardBorcsik Yes, I didn't mentionned that, but as you said, apps can define custom permissions. But it's less in habits... And for the detailed answer, the step after is to explained each permission and its effects; and I think it is too much detailled (for me and for rretzbach perhaps)
    – Eriatolc
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:00
  • The Gmail app has it's own permission(s?).
    – user13391
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:09
  • @RichardBorcsik : yes. But it's Google... I don't know a lot of developpers using this features when they create an app... The thing I wanted to say is that only a little percentage of the app have their own permissions.
    – Eriatolc
    Jun 21, 2012 at 10:18
  • Could you please point me to a resource which include the facts you posted about READ_PHONE_STATE? That it gives access to the IMEI, provides information about whether a call is currently being received.
    – rretzbach
    Jun 21, 2012 at 21:14

The best resource I found so far: http://techpp.com/2010/07/30/android-apps-permissions-secure-private-data/

  • I have merged your two accounts together, so you should now own this question (and be able to properly comment on its answers and so forth). I've also removed the first part of this post as it appears to be a comment intended for Eriatolc's answer, which you should be free to comment on now if you'd like clarification on that answer. Jun 21, 2012 at 13:32

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