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On android KitKat i have run into the following permission:

SMS
Uses one or more of: SMS, MMS.
Chrages may apply.

How do i get a more fine-grained explination of this permission? Does it mean that the app can send SMS messages or does it also mean it can read/edit messages i have recieve/have in my inbox?

Is there a way to see exactly what this permission means?

Or, and is there a comprehensive list of possible permissions somewhere? I tried googling but all i find are complaints about KitKat ruining peoples SD cards, and App Ops.

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    For the "comprehensive list", you might want to take a look at our permissions tag-wiki and on my Permissions List. The latter is most likely the most comprehensive resource for end-users you will find anywhere on the net, as I've combined all available resources I could find (not only on the net, but also on the phone, talking to devs etc.). – Izzy Jul 3 '14 at 14:33
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On the versions of the Play Store with the new "simplified" permissions dialog, you can still find a full list of permissions from the app's store page (the screen with the icon at the top, description, screenshots, &c.). Scroll down to the bottom of the page. Under "Additional Information" you'll see "Permissions" with a link "View details". Click this link to see a dialog with the list of individual permissions.

In particular, an SMS app might have permissions "edit your text messages", "receive text messages", "read your text messages", "send SMS messages", each one saying whether it applies to SMS, MMS, or both. They're pretty self-explanatory on the face of it, but there are some subtleties.

"Receive text messages" means the app will be notified (by Android) of a new message as soon as it arrives. This is normal for an SMS app, or for a few apps that use a special SMS to validate your phone number with some online service (such as Facebook).

In contrast, "read your text messages" lets an app get data from Android's database containing your message history. This means it can see messages sent from different apps, or messages you sent or received before you installed the new app. Any text message you can see in the stock SMS app, this app will also have access to. Again, this is normal in an SMS app.

"Edit your text messages" gives the app write access to that same database. For example, the app uses this to save messages or drafts to your message history. Again, this is completely normal for an SMS app. But it could also be used for an app that illicitly sends premium SMS messages to delete the records afterwards.

Like any permission, it comes down to trust. It's on you to decide if you trust the author of this app to only use these abilities the way you want: not just now, but in future versions of the app too until you you uninstall it.

  • Trouble here is, even that button in the playstore app just opens the browser for the web page. A huge step backwards, as even those who at least browsed through the full list will not follow up there anymore. +1 though, as that's not your fault :) Good explanation for the SMS permissions! – Izzy Jul 3 '14 at 14:36
  • @Izzy Not here, it doesn't: it opens a native dialog within the Play Store app, in the same format as the old permissions list. Tested on Play Store version 4.8.20. – Dan Hulme Jul 3 '14 at 14:41
  • Thanks for the pointer! Maybe they've fixed that up, will try that out again. I've tried about a week ago, and the browser opened – so I cancelled the update. As long as it's not clear whether a diff is shown on update (new permissions, please – who remembers the "old ones", especially with apps like Webkey (125+ permissions)?), I only allow updates for apps/devs I trust personally. </OT> :) – Izzy Jul 3 '14 at 14:50

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