Google is introducing a new Play Store policy that will effectively block third-party call recording apps from the Play Store by May 11th, according to a Reddit post seen by 9to5Google. Such apps currently use the Accessibility API (designed for people with disabilities) to gain access to the audio functions on Android devices.
"Apps with a core functionality intended to directly support people with disabilities are eligible to use the IsAccessibilityTool," the policy states. "Apps not eligible for IsAccessibilityTool may not use the flag and must meet prominent disclosure and consent requirements. The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording. "
Google has gradually been trying to eliminate call recording on Android, mainly due to privacy concerns. It was largely blocked on Android 6, and the use of the microphone for call recording was eliminated in Android 10. The last resort for call recording apps was to use the Accessibility API.
Google addressed the issue in a webinar video, saying that "remote in this context refers to call audio recording where the person on the other end is unaware of the recording is taking place." It added that dialer apps like Google Phone and Mi Dialer with native call recording functionality will be unaffected by the change.
"If the app is the default dialer on the phone and also pre-loaded, accessibility capability is not required to get access to the incoming audio stream," said Google content global operations lead Moun Choi. "Hence would not be in violation. Since this is a clarification to an existing policy, the new language will apply to all apps starting on May 11th." It's not clear if the new policy means existing call recorder apps will be pulled from the Play Store.