Android 11 apps that currently request “QUERY_ALL_PACKAGES” permission can see the full list of apps that you have stored on your device. But Google recently updated its developer program policy and now considers this information “personal and sensitive user data,” which limits the apps that are allowed to see this.
Once the change takes effect in May, applications can only use the permission if the user’s “primary function or purpose requires a broad view of the applications installed on their device.”
Examples of applications that will be allowed to continue to use this permission include file managers, browsers, and anti-virus applications that need the data for “awareness or interoperability purposes”. Banking applications, digital wallet applications and any other application that includes “financial transaction functions” will obtain a permit for “security-related purposes”.
Apps that do not have an excused permission use case run the risk of being removed from the Google Play Store. All developers who want to retain permission in their apps need to complete an acknowledgment form that justifies their use of it.
If you are concerned that developers continue to abuse permission, Google’s documentation clearly states that it will struggle to deal with violating apps, whether they are new to the Play Store or just updates to existing apps. Google can suspend apps and possibly terminate developer accounts.