Google wants to get rid of third-party Android apps that can record phone calls on its Play Store. The company has updated its Play Store Policy (spotted by Reddit user NLL-Apps) to prevent Android apps that were using the company’s Accessibility API to record phone calls to keep doing so after May 11.
“The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording. The use of the Accessibility API must be documented in the Google Play listing,” Google emphasized in its latest Play Store policy update.
If Google made various moves over the years to restrict Android apps from recording phone calls, the Accessibility API was still being used by some developers as a workaround. In a statement shared with The Verge, Google spokesperson Dan Jackson explained that the company wants this API to only be used by apps designed to support people with disabilities.
“Only services that are designed to help people with disabilities access their device or otherwise overcome challenges stemming from their disabilities are eligible to declare that they are accessibility tools. It should be obvious when reading the Google Play Store description of an accessibility tool who those users are and how the app helps them meet the challenges they face,” Jackson said.
It’s not exactly clear if Google will outright ban Android apps misusing its Accessibility API to record phone calls starting May 11. Anyway, Google explained in a recent webinar that it will continue to allow the default dialer app on Android phones to record phone calls without using the Accessibility API. This applies to Google’s own Phone app that ships on Pixel phones, as well as the dialer app on Samsung or Xiaomi devices that can also record phone calls.