Home GoAndroid Accessibility Services Used Inappropriately Now Leading to Removal of Apps

Accessibility Services Used Inappropriately Now Leading to Removal of Apps

Nov 12, 2017

Google is cracking down on Accessibility Services that are used by apps and various developers of well-known apps. Google sent out an email asking developers of various apps to justify why the app needs to have Accessibility Services. If the developer does not justify the need, then those apps will be removed from Google Play Store. If you are an Android user, read on to learn more about the Accessibility Services crack down and how it might impact you.

Accessibility Services Crack Down Beginning on Android

Google will be removing all apps where the Accessibility Services is used inappropriately. This means that if you use an app where the Accessibility Services API is used to create an overlay interface, it could be removed. A lot of apps are using Accessibility Services to create these user interface overlays, such as Tasker and LastPass. This means that certain apps control functions that are happening within various other Android apps. For Google, Accessibility Services was put out to help disabled users of Android. Some app developers though, are taking advantage of what it can do in order to control other apps.

Google sent out an email asking developers why they need Accessibility Services on their Android apps. If the developer cannot come up with a good reason for needing the Accessibility Services, the app will be removed from Google Play Store. The only way to get around the app being removed from Google Play Store is if the developer removes the requests for those specific services. The new crack down on this specific API likely has to do with security and safety. It is important to note that a lot of apps are using Accessibility Services the right way. We also should mention that developers are using the API to create nefarious apps.

Accessibility Services Poses a Risk

There is a huge risk when it comes to Accessibility Services. That is because it could lead to a developer getting high-level access to your device. That could include passwords and other sensitive information. This information can easily be used within a nefarious app or for harmful purposes.

Take LastPass for example, as this app uses the Accessibility Services API to distinguish the password field in other types of apps. This could help you when it comes to not having to type out that password all of the time. There is also the possibility that it is risky to give apps access. If an app developer used the technique of LastPass for a malicious app, giving that access level on your device would be harmful.

How This New Rule Could Impact App Developers

In the email Google is sending out to developers, Google reminds the developers that Accessibility Services was put there to help those people on Android with disabilities. The email goes onto state that the developer needs to tell the users how the app is using the helpful services. Google wants the app developer to tell the user how it is helping those with disabilities.

If the developer gets the email, they only have 30 days to justify the user of the Accessibility Services for the app in question. After those 30 days, the app could be removed from Google Play Store. If the developer chooses, they can also remove the services from their app within those 30 days as well. Google then goes onto talk about possible repercussions.

The apps and developers in violation of these rules could have their developer account removed. For apps on Google Play Store, this will impact thousands of them at a time. Most apps do use this feature and a lot of them have no real need to access this information. We will have to wait and see how the 30 day window works out, and if Google will begin removing those apps not in compliance as soon as the 30 days is over.