If you've ever used apps like LastPass, Tasker, Clipboard Actions, or Universal Copy, you've likely benefitted from Android's Accessibility Services. Accessibility Services were initially created as a way for app developers to create special tools and features to make their applications or games easier to use for those with disabilities, but certain titles have been tapping into Accessibility Services to allow for features that all users can take advantage of.
Unfortunately, according to emails that Google is sending out to numerous developers whose apps use Accessibility Services, some changes will need to be made soon.
In emails that these developers are receiving, Google states that applications using Accessibility Services should only make use of the system if they're directly benefiting those that have disabilities. Developers are told that they need to explain how using the service benefits these users, and if they don't meet requirements Google has created, their apps stand to be removed from the Play Store.
Within the email under the subtitle of "Action required", Google states –
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.
Along with this, Google continues by saying that "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."
As someone that uses LastPass's App Fill feature on a daily basis, this is worrisome news. Users on Reddit have expressed plenty of concern over this move, and while this concern is justified, Joao Dias (the developer of AutoTools) told Android Police that Google's statement on this is too vague to be taken literally at the moment.
Google has yet to respond to the complaints following this news, but we'll be sure to let you know if/when they do.
From the Editor's Desk: Navigating the Chromebook crunch of 2020
Chromebooks are wonderful little laptops for a great many people, but they're especially well-suited to children. Now if only retailers could keep them in stock this back-to-school season.
Here's every U.S. city with 5G coverage right now
5G deployment is moving fast and the list of cities with coverage is growing all the time. See if your U.S. city has coverage yet by Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T.
It's time to stop using SMS for two-factor authentication
Not all 2FA is equal. Using SMS to get a code might not be "better than nothing" after all.
Time to dump Chrome: 8 alternative desktop web browsers
If you getting frustrated with the lack of privacy, slower speeds or difficulty using extensions in Chrome, it's time to switch to one of these web browsers.