New guidelines for accessing background location in Android

  • App published before April 16, 2020 — Submit a compliant version of your app by March 29, 2021
  • Apps published after April 16, 2020 — Submit a compliant version of your app by January 18, 2021

Google Play Policy — Declared permissions and in-app disclosures

Before sending the form

  • Check if you really need this permission. In my opinion in most cases you don’t need it. Setting GPS permission to “While app in use” should work for most apps.
  • In my case that permission was needed for one special feature in the app. Also I needed to add it because of the change of using foreground services in Android 11 (read my previous blog post: Restrictions to background location and foreground services in Android 11)
  • Make sure you’ve added prominent disclosure and runtime permission (with user consent)
    Usage of the location should be clear for user but we’ll stop here because in most cases your app can be rejected because of missing proper disclosure
  • Prepare a video of yourself app showing the usage of that feature. Prominent disclosure should be also visible on your video.

Location permissions form

Rejections

  • Add special disclosure before turning on feature that needs to use background location
  • We added a new fullscreen fragment showing all the info — why we need that permission and how it is used.
  • We added suggested flow to ask for Background Location permission
  • We don’t ask for background location permission if we don’t have to.
  • Home screen. We didn’t ask for background permission if we didn’t have to.
  • There was one feature that could use standard location access (while the app is open). We didn’t ask for background permission so there was no disclosure about it.
  • When the user was trying to use a feature that is using background location access — we created a separate fragment showing disclosure, telling him why, we used proper scope for asking for this permission (recommended by Google for Android 11).
  • User approved this permission for this feature — the feature is ready to go.
  • Verify if you really need background permission access. You can still use foreground service for location (if you are not starting it from the broadcast receiver or any other background process). In that case foreground service is becoming background service and you need this permission.
  • Show proper dialog telling how you use location in your app. Do it always before asking for any location permission.
  • Remember about using proper scope for asking for background location (especially for Android 11)
  • Record a short video (required by the form) showing your feature. Disclosure dialog should be also visible on the video.

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