Nov 13th, 2017

It seems Google is planning on cracking down on Android apps that use Accessibility Services for anything but helping disabled people to use their phone. Over the weekend developers with apps that use these services began receiving an email stating that if they cannot prove their app is designed to help disabled people, it will be removed.

Here’s a peek at the email the developer of the Status app received.

At first, it seems like a reasonable request until you realize that nearly all of Android’s useful utility apps use this service in some form or fashion. Password managers like LastPass, Enpass, and Dashlane all use accessibility services to make autofilling your passwords easier. Android Oreo addressed this somewhat with an API for autofilling, but it’s currently only available to 0.3% of Android users.

Other apps that would be affected by this removal include things like Tasker, Long Shot, Text Aide, Universal Copy, Clipboard Actions, and tons of other apps that offer useful features. In fact, I would argue that the majority of apps that add new and different functionality to Android would be handicapped by being removed for “being in violation of accessibility services.” Developers are now tasked with displaying to Google how their app directly helps disabled people or risk removal.

Google is understandably trying to crack down on the ways that Android phones can be exposed to security risks, but this could put a damper on the entire Android developer ecosystem if there’s not a viable way to enable these functions without accessibility permissions.

 

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