More granular Google Account permissions with Google OAuth and APIs

October 08, 2018

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Posted by Adam Dawes, Senior Product Manager

Google offers a wide variety of APIs that third-party app developers can use to build features for Google users. Granting access to this data is an important decision. Going forward, consumers will get more fine-grained control over what account data they choose to share with each app

Over the next few months, we'll start rolling out an improvement to our API infrastructure. We will show each permission that an app requests one at a time, within its own dialog, instead of presenting all permissions in a single dialog*. Users will have the ability to grant or deny permissions individually.

To prepare for this change, there are a number of actions you should take with your app:

  • Review the Google API Services: User Data Policy and make sure you are following them.
  • Before making an API call, check to see if the user has already granted permission to your app. This will help you avoid insufficient permission errors which could lead to unexpected app errors and a bad user experience. Learn more about this by referring to documentation on your platform below:
    • Documentation for Android
    • Documentation for the web
    • Documentation for iOS
  • Request permissions only when you need them. You'll be able to stage when each permission is requested, and we recommend being thoughtful about doing this in context. You should avoid asking for multiple scopes at sign-in, when users may be using your app for the first time and are unfamiliar with the app's features. Bundling together a request for several scopes makes it hard for users to understand why your app needs the permission and may alarm and deter them from further use of your app.
  • Provide justification before asking for access. Clearly explain why you need access, what you'll do with a user's data, and how they will benefit from providing access. Our research indicates that these explanations increase user trust and engagement.

An example of contextual permission gathering

These changes will begin to roll out to new clients starting this month and will get extended to existing clients at the beginning of 2019. Google continues to invest heavily in our developer tools and platforms. Together with the changes we made last year, we expect this improvement will help increase transparency and trust in our app ecosystem.

We look forward to working with you through this change. If you have feedback, please comment below. Or, if you have any technical questions, please post them on stackoverflow under the google-oauth tag.

*our different login scopes (profile, email, and openid are all combined in the same consent and don't need to be requested separately.