Google Play makes a strange decision to block call recording apps

Getty Images | Oric Lawson

Google has announced a strange policy that actually bans call recording apps from the Play Store. As part of Google repression On apps that use Android accessibility APIs for non-accessibility reasons, Google says call recording is no longer allowed via accessibility APIs. Since accessibility APIs are the only way for third-party apps to record calls on Android, call recording apps are dead on Google Play.

NLL Apps — Call Recorder Mobile Application Developer million downloads On the Play Store – has tracked Policy change. Google Play support page It lays out the new law, saying, “The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be required to record the audio of remote calls.” The Google ban began on May 11, the first day of Google I/O, strangely enough.

There is no obvious reason why Google should not record calls from the Play Store. Many jurisdictions require the consent of one or more members of the call to begin recording, but once this requirement is met, the recording is fully legal and beneficial. The google recorder app is a product built entirely around the utility of recording conversations. Google doesn’t seem to have trouble recording calls when it comes to its own apps either — the Google Phone app on Pixel phones Supports call recording In some countries. Not only does Google provide proper APIs to allow third-party app developers to compete with them in this market, now they are shutting down the solutions they tried.

Android Accessibility APIs are very powerful and enable all kinds of control in the Android operating system. Google has said in the past that it prefers accessibility APIs to be used only by apps meant for people with disabilities, but since there are no inaccessibility options for many of the supported functions, many power user apps are connected to the accessibility APIs anyway. Google said it wants to crack down on accessibility apps that don’t have accessibility, but it also wants to consider “responsible and innovative uses of accessibility services.”

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In the past, Google has deprecated apps from accessibility APIs by supporting a specific use case with a more specific set of official APIs, and this appears to have been the plan at one point for call recording, but Google eventually abandoned these plans. In 2020, the second Android 11 Developer Preview briefly added “ACCESS_CALL_AUDIO“The recording API, but this API never made it into a final version of Android. Implementing this seems like a reasonable strategy: first support call recording with a proper API, then after a few years ban apps from using the API Accessibility for call recording.Alternatively, Google’s approach to it effectively blocks all call recording apps from the Play Store.The good news is that you can always sideload!

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