Google has announced plans to change its policy on use of the Android ‘Accessibility Services’ API.
The company has been contacting developers of apps that rely on the Accessibility Services API for functions like filling in text fields and detecting if other apps are open, to ask them to restrict their usage only for functions that assist users with disabilities. Failure to explain the need for the API in this regard will result in the app being removed from Google Play.
The problem that Google is trying to solve is the potential security risk involved in allowing apps to read data from other apps by using the API.
PlayStore developers who use Accesibility Services received email with following message:
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