Google bans third-party call recording apps on the Play Store

Google is introducing a new Play Store policy that will effectively block third-party call recording apps from the Play Store before May 11, according to a Reddit post seen by Google. 9to5Google. Such apps currently use the Accessibility API (designed for people with disabilities) to gain access to audio features on Android devices.

“Apps with core functionality intended to directly support people with disabilities are eligible to use the IsAccessibilityTool,” the policy states. “Applications that are not eligible for the IsAccessibilityTool cannot use the flag and must adhere to the disclosure and consent requirements outlined. The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for audio recording of remote calls.”

Google has been trying to phase out call recording on Android, mainly due to privacy issues. It was heavily blocked in Android 6 and the use of the microphone to record calls was removed in Android 10. The last resort for call recording apps was to use the Accessibility API.

Google addressed the issue in a webinar video, saying “remote in this context refers to the audio recording of a call where the person on the other end doesn’t know the recording is taking place.” It added that dialer apps like Google Phone and Mi Dialer with native call recording functionality will not be affected by the change.

“If the app is the default dialer on the phone and is also preloaded, the accessibility capability is not required to access the incoming audio stream,” said Moun Choi, Google’s global content operations leader. “So it would not be in violation. Since this is a clarification of an existing policy, the new language will apply to all apps starting May 11.” It’s unclear if the new policy means existing call recording apps will be pulled from the Play Store.

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