Published On: Wed, Nov 15th, 2017

Google cracks down on power-user apps that use Android’s accessibility API

Enlarge (credit: Google Play Store)

Google is cracking down on apps that use Android’s accessibility API. Even though the APIs have been around for years without any kind of rules about usage, Google has now started telling developers that using the accessibility API for anything other than helping users with disabilities will result in a ban from the Play Store.

As first reported by XDA Developers, a number of app developers have received an e-mail from Google in regard to their accessibility app. According to the e-mail, Google’s new rules require that “Apps requesting accessibility services should only be used to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps.” The e-mail says that developers “must explain to users how your app is using the ‘android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE‘ to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps.” Google says that if developers don’t comply with the new policy within 30 days, their app will be removed from the Play Store.

Google’s new policy will hurt a large swath of power-user apps. Android accessibility APIs are meant for alternative input devices and alternative output methods, but they are also a powerful set of controls that have been co-opted by the Android tweaking community to give users more control over their devices. If you want to write a powerful Android app and don’t want to modify your phone for root access, tapping into the accessibility API is the next best thing.

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Ars Technica UK

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