New Play Store policy will kill third-party call recording apps starting May 11
The built-in call recorder is a staple of custom OEM skins such as MIUI and ColorOS. It also comes pre-loaded on Google Pixel phones, integrated into the Phone app. But it isn’t universally available on Android phones due to regional laws. In case your phone doesn’t have the functionality, you can always install a third-party app from the Google Play Store to get the job done. But unfortunately, an upcoming Google Play Policy change will kill all third-party call recording apps once and for all.
Google has actively discouraged call recording on Android over the years. With Android 6.0, Google killed off the official call-recording API that allowed developers to easily bake the call recording function into their apps. This prompted app developers to look for unofficial ways to enable call recording. But again, Google killed off some of these workarounds in Android 9.0. And with Android 10, the company completely blocked call recording over the microphone.
As a last resort, developers started using Android’s Accessibility Service to offer call recording on devices running Android 10 and above. Google has now announced it will not allow third-party apps to use the Accessibility API for call audio recording, spelling the end for third-party call recording apps.
Google’s updated Play Store policy lays out several changes coming to the Accessibility API. And one of these changes will prevent third-party app developers from enabling call recording using the API. The change will go into effect from May 11.
The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording.
In a recent developer webinar, Google clarified that this change would only affect third-party apps:
“Remote in this context refers to call audio recording where the person on the other end is unaware of the recording is taking place. So, 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 and hence would not be in violation. Since this is a clarification to an existing policy, the new language will apply to all apps starting May 11th.”
In simple terms, if your phone comes preloaded with the call recording feature, you have nothing to worry about — it will continue to work as intended. This upcoming change will only apply to third-party apps on the Play Store that specifically use the Accessibility API to enable call recording. The Google Phone app, which offers built-in call recording, is exempt from the change.
Google hasn’t clarified how it intends to enforce this upcoming policy change. It isn’t clear if Google will kick third-party apps that don’t comply with the change from the Play Store after the May deadline or not.