Android OS is the most popular and the most widely used mobile operating system on the planet. The OS is well known for its customization and deep ocean of apps with the name of Google Play Store. Developers love flexibility of the developing tools available for them. However, Google is all set to remove or limit functionality of many apps in the coming days. We’ve already seen UC Browser getting vanished from the Play Store.
Apps Using Accessibility Services are in Question
One of the developer tools known as Accessibility Services is going to vanish from Android apps very soon or at least being limited in functionality. For those who are not familiar with this feature, the category was meant to help users with vision or hearing issues in operating their Android smartphones in a way that is the easiest for them. The developers were to use the Accessibility API to build apps with very specific functions in mind for disabled users.
Unfortunately, many developers used the API in ways that may not necessarily fit in line with what Google had in mind. App developers have been using Accessibility Services to make their apps do things that otherwise wouldn’t be possible in Android—and most of the time, these things aren’t really intended for disabled users.
Google’s Permission Policy states that Accessibility Services should only be used for, well, accessibility-related features. These rules have been around for ages, but they’ve finally decided to enforce them in true letter and spirit.
Reportedly, Google has sent emails to developers using Accessibility Services API for non-accessibility reasons, letting them know that the feature should only be used to “help users with disabilities to use Android devices and apps.” The company has given them dead line of 30 days to explain or otherwise get ready to be removed from Play Store.
In short, the developers have three choices to choose from:
- To comply with Google’s terms by removing the features that are incorrectly using Accessibility Services
- To remove their app from the Play Store altogether
- To be ready for removal of app by Google itself
If they refuse or continue to violate Google’s policies, they also run the risk of having their developer account terminated.
Popular Apps in Danger
Honestly speaking, hundreds of apps are going to be affected by this move; many of which are highly popular apps for power users. Apps like Tasker, Universal Copy, Should I Answer?, Network Monitor Mini, Cerberus, Signal Spy, Clipboard Actions, Nova Launcher, Greenify, and so many others are going to get hit hard with this enforcement.
Another big name that uses Accessibility Services is LastPass; the app uses the service to auto-fill passwords in other apps. But the developers say that their app is not going to be affected by this purge as they’re already working with Google to add support for the autofill feature in Android Oreo to the app.
If this is true, it doesn’t really make sense to us. There should be the same grading for all those who have violated Google’s terms and misused a useful feature to make money.
How to See Which App is Using Accessibility Features
This question does not matter for us as a user but if you are using one of such apps taking advantages of Accessibility Services illegally, there is a chance that the app or at least some functions may disappear for you.
Even though, if you want to see which of your favourite app is using Accessibility Features, go to Settings menu by pulling down the notification shade and tapping the gear icon. Scroll down to the Accessibility entry and tap into that menu. You’ll see a list of your currently installed apps that can use the service in the Downloaded Services section. You may or may not have this option enabled, which you’ll see noted just below the name of the app.