The Gadget Guy reviews the latest technology for the government and explores related trends and hot topics.
When you install an app onto your Android smartphone, you have to give that app permission to access certain features of your device, such as contact lists and location data. This is an all-or-nothing proposition — either you allow all of the requested permissions or you don’t install the app. The install screen just lists the permissions the app will need, and below it is just the accept button.
Steve Kondik at CyanogenMod, an after-market community-based firmware for Android platforms, may have come up with a good compromise for this “my way or the highway” policy. In his blog last week, he announced he is working on a new feature called Incognito Mode that will allow Android users to run certain apps or browse the Internet while keeping your personal data out of the equation.
This application programming interface will flag each app and ask you if you want to run it in Incognito Mode. When in this mode, the app will have access to an empty contact list and GPS will appear disabled, among other features. A status item in the quick panel will allow a user to quickly revert to normal mode.
This feature was no doubt started by a desire to keep the data of the average user out of the hands of anyone they wished to avoid. However, an API like this could also allow military and agency employees involved in national security matters to use a wider range of applications without giving away their position. This could be employed much easier than going into to the setting every time you want to avoid sharing your location or contacts.