Latest Gmail For Android Update Breaks Third Party Apps

If you’re anything at all like me, then you update your apps as soon as possible; after all, new is always better right? Well those who rely on certain apps and widgets that tie into Gmail may want to hold off.

The latest update for the Gmail Android app packs some performance fixes and battery improvements, but we’re hearing that there’s more to the update than meets the eye.

Certain developers (most notably Federico Carnales, of Launcher Pro fame) were notified a few weeks ago that because of potential security issues, the API used by certain apps to access Gmail messages would be removed in the 2.3.5 update. As a result, most apps that relied on that older API are locking up or force closing whenever they are opened. Even though Google seems to have made efforts to reach out to the developer community, at least a few people were caught by surprise and have updated their app descriptions in the market accordingly.

According to software engineer Chris Banes, the change in question blocks access to the app’s database:

Basically, previously an app just had to declare that they use the READ_GMAIL permission in it’s Manifest and it would all work. Now though, they’ve added the android:protectionLevel=”signature” which means that only the Gmail app itself can access it’s DB (as that’s the only thing which will have the right signature).

I’ve compiled a preliminary list of apps that seem to have been affected by the update. Bear in mind, these are only the apps that have explicitly acknowledged being affected; if you come across any more, let us know in the comments.