Google is cracking down on third-party call recordings

Google is cracking down on third-party call recordings

Cleaning the home in the Google Play Store to get rid of bad apps, but breaking some features in the process. If you rely on a particular third-party app for recording calls, you won’t get access to it anytime soon.

According to Android Police, the developer of the well-known Call Record ACR app has posted on Reddit to broadcast their complaints about upcoming Play Store policy changes. Earlier this month, Google announced that Android apps would be banned from using the Accessibility API for recording calls outside of its intended use. These apps are used by specific API developers to create, even if they are not intended for this purpose. As the name implies, this is actually an accessibility feature.

Google’s policy for the Accessibility API is that it is “not designed for [and] cannot be requested for remote call audio recording.” In other words, the apps currently used for this particular task are technically against its intended use. The new rules will take effect on May 11, coincidentally the first day of Google’s developer conference.

In the follow-up webinar for developers, Google expanded its policy changes. An employee controlling the event explained that the new policy affects call recording apps that record calls without disclosing them to another person, which may go against various state laws. Developers who wish to maintain that access will need to add disclaimer and require explicit consent before recording the call or use a different method of recording the call.

As a journalist who relies on recording everything to get on the record, I can understand how frustrating this news is for those who have to come up with new ways around the usual workflow. I also see why Google is moving. As I mentioned, the company is pushing its Play Store policies to sell to more people on all Android devices and the rest of the ecosystem.

Google still allows call recording on its Google Phone app, which some have criticized as not being a developer-friendly move. But Samsung’s phone app can still record, precisely because it doesn’t use the Accessibility API. However, Google will allow its own product to use the Accessibility API, which it manages. I wonder if there is a future where Google will split call recording away from accessibility options and reopen it to developers, either by their grace or just to retain this feature on Android phones.

Sneha Mali

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