To better help users with disabilities, Android has a set of Accessibility Services that developers can use to improve their applications. For some time, though, these services and APIs have been used by some apps (such as LastPass and Tasker) to create unique overlay user interfaces and control functions within other apps.
Now, according to an email from Google, unless developers can describe how the app properly uses the Accessibility Services to help users who are disabled, it will need to remove all requests for accessibility services or it will be taken off of the Play Store…
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As pointed out by Android Police, Google is most likely cracking down on Accessibility Services use due to security reasons. While applications like LastPass use the available APIs to identify password fields in other apps, this level of access can be used maliciously.
Below is an example of an email Google is sending out to developers that utilize any of Android’s Accessibility Services provided by the developer of BatterySaver:
We’re contacting you because your app, BatterySaver System Shortcut, with package name com.floriandraschbacher.batterysaver.free is requesting the ‘android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE.’ Apps requesting accessibility services should only be used to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps. Your app must comply with our Permissions policy and the Prominent Disclosure requirements of our User Data policy.
Action required: If you aren’t already doing so, you 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. Apps that fail to meet this requirement within 30 days may be removed from Google Play. Alternatively, you can remove any requests for accessibility services within your app. You can also choose to unpublish your app.
Alternatively, you can choose to unpublish the app. All violations are tracked. Serious or repeated violations of any nature will result in the termination of your developer account, and investigation and possible termination of related Google accounts.
If you’ve reviewed the policy and feel we may have been in error, please reach out to our policy support team. One of my colleagues will get back to you within 2 business days.
The Google Play Review Team
As you can see, this change will most likely affect hundreds if not thousands of applications on the Play Store. Developers have 30 days to address their use of Accessibility Services so we will have to wait and see what happens.
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