Google will soon ban third-party call-recording apps from the Play Store. First highlighted by a developer of an affected app, Google made the announcement in a Google Play policy update that becomes effective on May 11. Once in force, developers who want to submit apps to the Play Store will no longer be able to use the Android Accessibility API to record calls, killing the utility of call-recording apps on Android.
Google hasn’t allowed third-party call recording on Android officially for years now. It’s no surprise as call recording is a legal minefield, with different countries and even states having their own rules. If you’re using a first-party phone app, you’ll notice that this feature appears or disappears depending on where your phone thinks you are, and third-party recording apps hacking onto the company Accessibility API were one way to get around this.
That won’t be the case anymore. As per Google’s new policy; “The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording.”
This won’t affect first-party apps like Google’s own Phone app, which ships on a range of Android phones from Pixels to OnePlus phones to even some Xiaomi phones. These system apps already have elevated permissions, and they won’t need to piggyback onto non-standard APIs to capture call audio.
The rules go into effect on May 11, just as Google I/O kicks into gear. However, with Android being an open operating system, there’s still the possibility that app developers make their apps accessible on third-party app stores or even via direct download to customers. After all, it’s not so devastating if Google bans you from the Play Store as long as the option to go elsewhere remains.
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