The Right Way to Ask for Permissions on Android

The Right Way to Ask for Permissions on Android

When it comes to building a native mobile app, there are a lot of considerations to be made. Here’s one - depending on exactly what sort of app you're building,  you might need to ask users to grant access to their location, their contacts, and some of their other personal data. And if you want to build a relationship with them, you’ll certainly want to look at asking for permission to send push notifications.

The purpose of permissions is simple enough - they help improve the experience of the mobile app (in some cases they are effectively essential, whilst leaving users in control and  protecting their privacy if that’s important to them. So if you want to get those all important opt-ins, extra care must be taken to earn their trust and loyalty and make them feel that it’s a worthwhile exchange!

By giving you permissions, your users are allowing you access to some of their confidential information, and granting the opportunity to talk to them. In return, app developers should do their utmost to spell out to the user exactly what they are giving consent to- and why it is of benefit to them to do so.

Android - The Changing Landscape

On the Android OS, the way permissions are handled has changed. And mobile marketers need to be ready to optimise experience in the new reality. Previously, permissions on android apps weren’t so much requests as announcements, you could either accept them or forget about downloading the app.  With Android Marshmallow’s updated 6.0, you’ll no longer see all of the permissions that the app could ever require - location, contacts, camera, etc - grouped together at the download. Now, apps that are designed for Marshmallow 6.0 will only ask for each permission when it is necessary.

So now that android can phase its requests for permissions, how are you going to ensure that their users keep clicking ‘accept’? As we already noted above, it’s simple enough. Address the obvious: make sure that your user knows why you’re requesting permissions, and how they will benefit from accepting. It’s important to get both the timing and the messaging right here, because on Android the user does have the option to check the ‘never ask me again’ box. Luckily, the user won’t be presented with this dreaded option until they’ve already denied the permission request, and are being asked a second time.

Sometimes, it will necessary for the app’s basic functionality that the user accepts the request.hink Google Maps immediately requesting your location, or Boomerang requesting access to your camera right away. You’re very unlikely to find users denying this access - they won’t be able to use the app for its intended purpose otherwise.


Other times, however, it may not be so clear to the user why opting in for a particular permission will be beneficial to them. For example, if there is a good reason why your user should opt in for push notifications upon install, then clearly and concisely explain to them why this would improve their experience with the app - and then ask them for permission.

Take a look at the example below. This dating app is asking to send me a push notification when I get a new like or a new message. But most importantly, it is using an in-app message to communicate that to me before the standard opt-in request. In that message, the value is clearly stated, and I’m thus far more likely to agree to the request.

In other instances, it may not be necessary for a user to grant access to certain permissions early on in the app experience. Take a look at the example below. For this app, location is something which is fundamental to being able to use the app properly, but both the app and the user’s enjoyment can be greatly enhanced by allowing it access to the user’s contacts. By explaining this when attempting to ‘find friends’, the need to accept becomes obvious in order to get the most out of the app experience. Again, before the formal request, we’ve sold the value.

 

By taking advantage of Android’s new permissions model in this way, app developers and mobile marketers are able to drive up push opt-ins and thus improve long-term engagement. And they’ll also see an increase in the number of users sharing location, contacts and other key user data - and thus be able to deliver an enhanced user experience - meaning more retention and ultimately more revenue!