One of the things we love about Android is that it is so easy to sideload apps that aren’t in the Play Store. This means that apps that don’t meet Google’s requirements can still be loaded, giving users more freedom and flexibility when it comes to their Android devices.
But this freedom does come at a cost where users might sometimes sideload an app laced with malware without knowing it, but thankfully this is something Google is hoping to fix in Android 13 by introducing some sideloading restrictions.
The term restrictions might sound like a bad thing, but in a detailed breakdown by Mishaal Rahman over at Esper.io, these restrictions basically prevent sideloaded apps from accessing the Accessibility API. Many apps rely on this API for useful features, but as Rahman notes, there has been a history of abuse of this API.
This is one of the reasons why Google has recently introduced policies that could effectively limit or put an end to call recording apps entirely. With these new restrictions, APKs that are downloaded or sideloaded from sources that aren’t necessarily trustworthy will not be able to access the Accessibility API.
It doesn’t seem that users can override this feature either as according to Google, they told Rahman that granting it permissions will not be possible as the service will be greyed out and users will be greeted by a message saying that the setting is unavailable due to security reasons.
So the good news is that sideloading isn’t going anywhere, but the new restrictions should help keep Android users safer.