The Ubuntu operating system is one of the first to have introduced incremental app permissions, but because it wasn’t made available worldwide like all the others, this particular feature has gone by unnoticed, even if it promised much better user control.
Canonical was implementing detailed app permissions almost two years ago, at a time when it was only a dream for some of the other distros. For example, Android 6.0 Marshmallow is finally making this feature available for users. People will know that a certain application will want to access some Android feature, but it’s only a general information.
Ubuntu is still king
An Android app will say that it needs access to your contacts, and you only say yes or no. In Ubuntu, that particular option is much more refined. Before the user makes that choice, the context needs to be known and explained.
“Either an app gets access to all of your pictures or none of them. All of your contacts or none of them. That’s still too much. In Ubuntu, for content like this, you’re not asked to give blanket access, you’re asked to select which items to give access to. So I can give a game access to contacts only for friends I think might want to play, not all my family, coworkers and acquaintances,” Ubuntu community manager Michael Hall explained.
This kind of refinement has been available in Ubuntu for a long time, but it’s only now making its way into Android. One of the main features that Ubuntu provides for its users is confinement, and this is a really good example of why that works and why people should expect to see it in all OSes.
Ubuntu’s only disadvantage is that it’s not available on more phones, but that’s something carefully planned by Canonical and its partners. We are very likely to see Ubuntu land on more phones in 2016.