With Android 11, changes will be made in access to the "camera" application by third-party applications, to better protect users' personal data.
The developers of the Android operating system have indicated that to protect user privacy, Android 11 will force third-party applications that need to access the camera to go through the basic built-in "camera" application. , even for users who have chosen to use another app by default. To avoid this restriction, applications that wish to do so can however name the third-party "camera" apps that they want to support, if Google's explanations are to be believed.
This is in line with the policy of Apple – which nevertheless relaxed its rules recently – and will ultimately not change much for the end user, who will continue to be able to use their applications as before and have access to functions related to the camera without hassle (in Instagram, Snapchat or TikTok, for example). The only thing that changes is that the applications that want to access the camera will go directly to the one integrated by default in Android, instead of leaving the choice to the user.
A risk for geolocation data
What is the risk of letting third-party apps access the user's camera without special protection? Google explains that in this way, apps could simply use certain metadata in photos, which turns out to be personal information. In particular, Google cites the GPS location of the pictures. We remember that Shutterfly was caught with its hand in the bag, using the GPS coordinates extracted from the EXIF data.
Note, this modification in the functioning of the access granted to alternative applications managing the camera was initially discovered by Mark Murphy, author and Android developer, who warned the Google teams thinking he had found a "bug". This is when Google engineers were able to explain that this was now the desired behavior, adding that Android 11 will incorporate this change for everyone.
A modification which is not without causing discontent among developers of "camera" applications. The Verge relays in particular the concerns of the developer of Camera FV-5. Still, the co-founders of Footej Camera and Open Camera don't seem more worried than that, hoping that followers of their apps will continue to use them, simply by launching them directly from their dedicated icon.