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Nov 13, 2017 06:12 PM IST | Source: Moneycontrol.com

Google is clamping down on sneaky apps that ask for accessibility services

There are some potential security risks involved in allowing apps to read data from other apps by using the function of API, and this is the main issue Google is trying to solve

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Google is letting developers know that the tech giant is cracking down on how they employ its Accessibility Services and APIs in their apps.

In case developers cannot prove how they actually use accessibility services for the original intended purpose i.e. to assist the special needs users and help them have a better experience with the apps, they will be directed to remove these functions or risk being scrapped from the Play Store entirely.

This comes as a major backlash for popular apps such as LastPass, Tasker, Cerberus and Universal Copy, all of which are using the API to discharge their basic functions.

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A screenshot of Google's email uploaded by James Fenn, developer of the app called Status (Courtesy: Reddit

The developers of these and related apps will now have to figure around a way for their apps to work without using the API or delete the system altogether.

But what is Google trying to solve?

There are some potential security risks involved in allowing apps to read data from other apps by using the function of API, and this is the main issue Google is trying to solve.

However, while at the same time this will cause problems for app developers and users like considering the convenience which apps such as LastPass using API to detect passwords across platforms.

“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,” said Google in the email it sent to Battery Saver, one of the apps that use API, reports 9to5Google.

On what to do ahead, Google further wrote:

“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.”

Developers have been provided with a 30-day deadline to clear out their Accessibility Services issue so we will have to wait and see what happens.

But users like James Fenn, developer of the app called Status, says that it would be better if Google found a compromise on accessibility.

“That said, I wish they would find another way to go about resolving this that didn’t involve the removal of hundreds of good, useful apps from the Play Store,” Fenn said, as per a thread in Reddit.
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