updated 07:25 pm EST, Thu March 1, 2012
Android has open access to photos
The iOS photo and video privacy hole exists in Android, but as part of a conscious design choice, an investigation found quickly. Following a check by mobile antivirus app writers at Lookout, Google told the New York Times that it had intentionally left media access open like on a desktop OS. The approach was virtually needed to let users store photos on an SD card, Google claimed.
The shift towards built-in storage was changing that demand, Google said. The company wouldn't commit to an answer, though, saying it was "considering" a requirement that apps ask permission. It did reiterate app permissions policies it had the option to pull apps remotely if they caused trouble, although these would only be useful if an app was straightforward in declaring its intentions or else after the apps had already taken users' data.
Apple is likely to be offering its own fix in the near future with an iOS update. Its use of internal storage has meant that it has never had the issue of needing to allow external storage outside of its camera adapters.
The Google point, while it has been an advantage for Android's flexibility, has also illustrated a factor that has led to more concerns about security on Android as a whole than on iOS. Outside of its Bouncer screening system, Google's policy has been to accept apps freely and grant them more control over the OS rather than closely monitor content and limit permission out of security concerns. Android's malware issue has often been overstated, with few actual infections, but is still much less certain than the near-ideal track record of iOS so far.