Why Does Bible.is Have So Many Permissions?

Abraham -

Are you concerned about the permissions you have been asked to agree to, upon updating/downloading the Bible.is app? 

When it comes to the app development, particularly Android app development, there are certain guidelines, regulations, and permissions we must adhere to by Google standards. Some of these a very self-explanatory and some are confusing. Although the permission settings sound very general, our use of them are quite specific and relate to our apps features.

  1. Read phone status and identity. (This is needed to allow the app to detect incoming calls, so audio/video can be paused.)
  2. Add or remove accounts.  (Used to manage Bible.is accounts for syncing.)
  3. Read call log, read contacts. (This is related to sharing from within the app for SMS or Email.)
  4. Read applications running.  (There are a number of features in our app that require the device settings or user accounts/info to make it a simpler user experience. We want very much to integrate with their other apps for ease of use)
  5. Find accounts on my device.  (Used to manage Bible.is accounts for syncing.

Here's more explanation of the permissions required by Google in relation to the Bible.is app:

  • Your Personal Information (For example: call log, your contacts): This is used by the "Share the App" section. One of the options is to choose a contact to share the app with via e-mail or SMS. In order to allow this, the app needs to be able to read your contacts list. We do not read your call log, but that is part of the same permission, so it shows up on the Permissions list. We do not, under any circumstances, access your Contacts or send information to other people on your Contacts list without your explicit permission.
  • Network Communication (full network access): This is fairly self-explanatory, of course. Almost all of the data Bible.is and the Deaf Bible displays to the user comes from a remote server, so the app needs Internet access to be able to retrieve it.
  • Your accounts (add or remove accounts, create accounts and set passwords, use accounts on this device): Bible.is takes advantage of Android's built-in Accounts framework to automate the process of syncing your data with our servers if you create a Bible.is account. This permission is necessary to allow that. It does not access any other accounts on your device, and if you choose not to create an account, this permission has no effect.
  • Storage (modify or delete the contents of your SD card): This is required to allow downloading of audio bible chapters.
  • Phone calls (For example: phone status and identity): We don't read the phone identity, but we do detect phone status so the app can pause audio or video if a phone call comes in.
  • System tools (prevent phone from sleeping, toggle sync on and off): Preventing the phone from sleeping (i.e., a "wake lock") is used sparingly, but is needed to be able to periodically wake up the phone to update Bible data in the background. Toggling sync on and off is used for syncing Annotation data if the user is logged in to a Bible.is account.
  • Network communication (view network communications, view Wi-Fi connections): This is used to detect whether the device is connected to the Internet, so we can display useful and informative messages to the user if they are disconnected for any reason.
  • Development tools (test access to protected storage): This permission will show up on versions of Android from 4.1 on up (i.e., Jelly Bean). It's a bit confusing, but this is automatically shown on recent versions of Android whenever a device has write access to the SD Card. It is a side-effect of a recent change in the Android framework that splits SD Card reading and writing into two separate permissions.
  • Your Accounts (find accounts on this device): This is part of the Accounts framework that we use to create a Bible.is account on the device and automatically sync user data. Again, we do not access accounts from any other service besides Bible.is.
  • System tools (For example: sync settings, sync statistics, run at startup): The sync settings have to do with Accounts and Annotation sync. Running at startup allows the app to create an timer at boot-up for periodic updating of Bible data.

Take a look at some of the permissions you have agreed to with other apps you enjoy; you may find them to be very similar.

  1. Go to SETTINGS.
  3. Select an app from the list. 
  4. Look in the app information. 
  5. Permissions will be towards the bottom.

The parent ministry of Bible.is, Faith Comes By Hearing, does not use your device information for anything outside of the app.  You are only agreeing to allow the Bible.is app and your phone to work together. These Google permissions must be agreed to at the beginning of the download process, even if you never choose to utilize these features (i.e. Accounts, Sharing, etc.) within the app.

I hope that has been helpful in answering your question. Please contact our Support Team for additional assistance and/or questions.

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