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[Android] Search for apps in Play Store based on the system access permissions they request with APEFS

Posted By Briley Kenney On July 11, 2013 @ 6:38 AM In Android | 8 Comments

APEFS main UI [1]Every once in a while apps overstep their boundaries by requesting a ridiculous amount of permissions. For example, it’s highly unacceptable for a wallpaper and ringtone app to be requesting permissions to look at call logs or messages. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to download an app or two without carefully considering the permissions they require. What if there was an easier way to find apps that meet your requirements when it comes to mobile permissions? APEFS, or Advanced Permission Filter System, is an Android application that works in tandem with the Google Play Store. It allows you to browse and filter Play Store apps and games based on requested permissions.

What is it and what does it do

Main Functionality

APEFS app description [2]APEFS is an alternate application storefront that pulls content from the Google Play Store. With it, you can filter apps specifically by the permissions they require. In other words, it allows you to search for new apps and games on Google Play Store based on the permissions apps request. Don’t want an app to ever look at your phone calls or text messages? No problem. With APEFS you can filter out questionable or risky apps, and browse only the safe ones.

Pros

  • Browse, search and filter apps in Google Play based on the permissions they request
  • App description page clearly lists out the permissions needed
  • You can also browse and compare permissions of apps already installed on your device
  • The ‘install’ button links directly to the appropriate Google Play page

Cons

  • The UI could use a visual overhaul, but it’s hardly a dealbreaking issue
  • Uses 24MB of RAM while running, which is a bit high for an Android app

Discussion

APEFS filters [3]Normally, to find out what permissions an app requests you have to navigate to the description page and select a special “permissions” tab. However, you cannot actually see the permissions on a mobile device. The permissions tab only shows up when browsing the Google Play Store via the web portal.

APEFS allows you to filter app results by the individual permissions they request. It works like this, you set filters which work to remove apps that require a certain type of permission, and then you browse various categories with the appropriate results.

For instance, you can browse the top free games available in Google Play and filter out results that require permissions to view your messages, phone calls or contacts. The games that are left displayed in the list are the ones that do not use the permissions mentioned.

It’s not the most attractive market based app you’ll ever use, but it is definitely simple and easy to understand. When first opened, the main menu includes four basic tabs which open up to even more options.

  • Charts
    • Apps and games
    • Apps only
    • Games only
  • Advanced search
  • Installed apps
  • Preferences

Obviously, the charts tab allows you to browse games and apps much like you would in the Google Play Store. At the very top of the browsing window you can select the various filters available to remove apps requesting permissions you don’t want.

APEFS advanced search [4]When reading an app description, APEFS will directly notify you if permissions have changed at all recently. It also clearly outlines what permissions are required to install the app or game in question.

You can also do an advanced search which pretty much works as you’d expect it to. There’s not much else to say about the search feature other than the unique SafeSearch function. It allows you to choose a safe search rating from off to strict. When activated, depending on the level chosen it will filter out app results that don’t meet the safety level in terms of permissions. An app that requests full unhindered access to the device will always be filter unless SafeSearch is off.

Another very interesting feature is the option to scan and filter results for apps already installed on your device. If you’re wondering what apps on your device request certain permissions, this function will certainly help you find out.

The preferences tab simply lets you change the overall theme of the app. You can choose between three different options, dark, light and classic.

For reference, APEFS uses about 24MB of RAM while running.

Conclusion and download link

If you want to browse for new apps and games in the Google Play Store by the permissions they request, then APEFS will let you do just that. The UI isn’t the most appealing thing you’ll ever find, but it’s definitely easy to navigate and understand… so user-interface is far from a deal-breaker. With this app you can browse apps or games in various categories and activate filters to weed out any apps you find questionable. You can also do an advanced search for particular apps in the Google Play Store if you have a good idea of what you want. As an added convenience, you can even scan apps already installed on your device and find out what permissions they have been offered. Long story short, APEFS will let you find and install apps based on their requested permissions. And It works quite well, I might add. Check it out.

Price: Free

Version reviewed: 1.1.0

Requires: Android 2.1 and up

Download size: 2.6MB

APEFS on Play Store [5]


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URL to article: http://dottech.org/115884/android-review-apefs-app/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/APEFS-main-UI.png

[2] Image: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/APEFS-app-description.png

[3] Image: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/APEFS-filters.png

[4] Image: http://dottech.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/APEFS-advanced-search.png

[5] APEFS on Play Store: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=de.unisiegen.informatik.bs.apefs

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