To be honest, I'm not 100% sure if the ways to achieve that behavior only are possible through that permission, or even if there's some workaround of that behavior, but I'm almost sure so I'm posting.

Going to the particular case, I'd need for my Android app to check what's the signal strength with which the device is connected to the telephony network, and it looks like that's impossible to do without having enabled the permission for accessing user's location.

Problem is that app doesn't look like it has anything to do with needing user's location, indeed, if it's only possible through that permission, I consider that a fail in Android design from user experience point of view, so my guess is that it could make some users suspicious about that, specially considering that from Android API 23 you need to explicitly confirm a dialog to allow the permission.

I guess I'd need some very good words not to make the user suspicious, or well, maybe I'm also overlooking the users that would feel suspicious about my app.

Which would be a good way to handle this in terms of user experience if on last instance that permission is needed to achieve that behavior?

1 Answer 1


As you mentioned, asking for unnecessary permissions hurts your credibility. You need a good reason to ask for what you want. A new user doesn’t know the first thing about how this app works, so they have no incentive to say yes. What you could do - if there truly are no workarounds - is use priming screens.

You didn't mention what your app does, but permission priming works in a way that you add context to the permission; you show what your user will before they're hit with the permission request. There's multiple ways to do this, but a simple rule is: Make sure it’s crystal clear for users what they’ll get in return for accepting the request.

These examples are iOS centered, but the same principle applies.

1. Benefit Explanation

Explaining a permission in context is another well-done example — it helps gauge user interest and improve comprehension of the permission. Try to explain to a user the benefits they’ll receive by giving the app access.

Permission priming example

2. Priming During The Request

You can do this by providing a background image that explains the permission request. Foursquare primes users by providing a background image that explains why the app needs that particular permission.

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3. Primer” Message Before Actual Permission Request

In most cases, it’s better to “prime” your users to accept requests before the actual permission request screen appears.

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4. Ask In Context of Action

User-triggered dialog works even better that context-building screen, because users are expecting the request and more likely to allow a permission when they want to use the feature it enables. Wait until a feature is invoked to request permission. When the user taps a feature like the camera in Cluster app, that triggers the request for photo permissions.

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  • A very good answer, but I fear it doesn’t quite address the question, which is not so much about asking for a permission, but rather about asking for a permission which seems to be unrelated (permission to get user location when what you really want is signal strength).
    – jcaron
    Aug 28, 2018 at 13:43
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    That's what I tried to address. If you need permission for something, then you need to prime for it, especially if it's a permission that doesn't make any sense to a user. If they see the benefit of allowing it before they see the actual request, chances are much higher they'll grant it. Of course you'll still have a handful of users that question the specific permission you're asking and the benefit you are tying it to, but that's something that can't be helped, only mitigated. Aug 28, 2018 at 14:26
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    I agree, this is very much how you should ask to enable permissions. Give the user a real reason to do it or they'll probably say no. Especially after recent history has raised public awareness of data-protection. Aug 28, 2018 at 14:34

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