The goal of this major rule change is to crack down on apps that may be secretly harvesting location data while they are not in use. This type of data is called "background location data" and most app makers often sell it to analytics firms and online advertisers.
Starting with August 3, Google plans to analyze any new app submission to the Play Store and check if the app is requesting access to background location data, and if the app actually needs this to work.
This review process will be extended to all app updates on November 3, time until which app makers have to update their apps and remove any non-compliant code that gobbles up location data without using it, and especially location data while the app is not in use.
Google said that apps that send emergency or safety alerts, tracker apps, some weather apps, and some social media apps, will be allowed to access location data, even in the OS background, since the feature is clearly needed for core functions.
On the other hand, many apps will most likely have a problem passing Google's upcoming reviews, especially those that made it a habit of accessing this data because there was nothing stopping them.
Google updates Android location permission prompt, again
Google has been aware of this mass location data harvesting problem for a while. This is one of the reasons why Google decided to split each permission request to its own prompt a few years back.
However, as time went by, Google engineers also realized that this didn't solve the problem. Under the guise of a location-centric feature, apps would often coerce users into granting them this permission, which they then proceeded to abuse continuously after that.
Last year, with Android 10, Google added a new custom permission prompt that let users allow an app access to location data "at all times" or "while the app was in use."