In Apple’s iOS 6, when an app requires access to a protected resource (e.g., location or photos), the user is prompted with a permission request that she can allow or deny. These permission request dialogs include space for developers to optionally include strings of text to explain to the user why access to the resource is needed. We examine how app developers are using this mechanism and the effect that it has on user behavior. Through an online survey of 772 smartphone users, we show that permission requests that include explanations are significantly more likely to be approved. At the same time, our analysis of 4,400 iOS apps shows that the adoption rate of this feature by developers is relatively small: around 19% of permission requests include developer-specified explanations. Finally, we surveyed 30 iOS developers to better understand why they do or do not use this feature.
Joshua Tan, Khanh Nguyen, Michael Theodorides, Heidi NegrÃ³n-Arroyo, Christopher Thompson, Serge Egelman, and David Wagner. The effect of developer-specified explanations for permission requests on smartphone user behavior. In Proceedings of the SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI ’14). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 91-100. 2014.