Reducing required permissions in Android games (Unity3D)

Two days ago we released Slider for Android devices. First thing you do as soon as your game is available is downloading and installing it, and that’s when we found the following message.

Access to photos/media/files permission

Well, not exactly this one. Our game also asked for WiFi State but we didn’t capture that one.

Ok, WiFi State is not that disturbing. Online leaderboards and Chartboost, the service we use for showing ads, require Internet. Not WiFi, though, 3G is enough. But “This app has access to photos, media or files” is a certainly disturbing warning. With recent events involving photo leaks like The Fappening, users are increasingly more aware of privacy related security. Indeed, when we announced the game in Reddit some users complained about these permissions:

“Looks nice! Why does it need access to my media files and wifi information?”
“Not trying untill dis answered”


Slider certainly doesn’t need to access your photos, media or files in any way! What was happening? Well, here’s the answer: Google’s permissions groups! In relation to Photos/Media/Files, Google says:

An app can use files or data stored on your device.
Photos/Media/Files access may include the ability to:

  • Read the contents of your USB storage (example: SD card)
  • Modify or delete the contents of your USB storage
  • Format external storage
  • Mount or unmount external storage

So, that’s it. We commented these two uses-permission lines in the Chartboost Android Manifest (according to their documentation they are just optional, not required)

<uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.ACCESS_WIFI_STATE” />
<uses-permission android:name=”android.permission.WRITE_EXTERNAL_STORAGE” />

and also set ‘Write Access” to “Internal Only” in Unity3D’s PlayerSettings. No need to store anything anywhere, anyways.

And that’s it. This is what you get when you try to install Slider now: SLIDER, no permissions required

Way better!

Does your game or app require too many permissions? Take care, it certainly scares users away if they are not required for a good reason!

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