Google is poised to remove an entire category of apps—call recorders—from the Play Store.
Reddit user “NLL-APPS” posted a thread on April 21 revealing Google’s plan to update a policy involving the Accessibility API that Android developers used in their call-recording apps.
“The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording,” Google says, which probably comes as a surprise to all the developers using it for that purpose. The company explained its reasoning in a webinar it published as an unlisted YouTube video.
Google says in the video that call recording can be offered by an Android phone’s built-in dialer app. Any software downloaded from the Play Store, however, cannot offer recording capabilities if anyone on the call might be unaware their conversation is being recorded.
NLL-APPS claims that “only [the] phone app that come with your phone or made by Google can access the call audio,” however, and that third-party apps don’t have similar access. If that is the case, this policy change might spell the end of call-recording apps in the Play Store.
Google is set to restrict developers’ access to the Accessibility API on May 11. The company didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on what this change means for call-recording apps, or the accuracy of NLL-APPS’ claim that third-party apps can’t access call audio.