Google will remove apps that misuse accessibility services from the Play Store

Hundreds of Android apps might be removed from the Google Play ...

UC Browser has mysteriously disappeared from the Google Play Store

But not all of them are very useful. While it may be possible for some developers to recreate key features of their apps in a way that avoids the improper use of accessibility services, they will undoubtedly struggle to do so within such a tight window of time. In addition, it is the sixth most downloaded Android app in India.

Google has emailed the developers of apps which use the accessibility features notifying them that they have 30 days (from Friday 10 November) to either convince Google that the app needs the feature for accessibility reasons, remove/replace the functionality, or take down the app from the Play Store. Developers whose apps use Android's accessibility features outside of their intended goal will need to abide by a few new rules or risk of having their apps removed from the Play Store entirely.

As first reported by XDA Developers, a number of app developers have received an e-mail from Google in regard to their accessibility app.

Google's new policy will hurt a large swath of power-user apps. It is noted that this API can affect other apps and can be used for potential data theft. Through the API, an app can see all the other apps the user is running and take an action when a specific app launches.

Google's new policy of only allowing the accessibility API for accessibility purposes definitely seems to be new, as many of these apps are years old and have existed in the Play Store without issue. It can also be used to install a malicious information-stealing app-or even hijack the screen and lock the user out ala ransomware. It also says that developers can alternatively remove the accessibility services within the app, or can choose to unpublish the app. The app is free to use, with no ads or in-app purchases, though Google is probably scanning all the data you share to serve better ads elsewhere online. All of these examples that I've just mention rely on Android's Accessibility APIs.

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