Google Pauses Takedown of Apps with Accessibility Services as they Evaluate Innovative Uses
Nearly a month ago, Google threatened developers with the takedown of any applications from the Google Play Store using accessibility services for anything not relating to helping users with disabilities. These developers would have their application removed from the Play Store after thirty days if they did not comply. This meant applications such as Greenify and LastPass were at risk, until LastPass came out and stated that they were not under threat. This led users to question why some applications were okay and some weren’t when clearly LastPass is not an application aimed at helping the disabled.
Now, according to a developer on Reddit, Google may be reversing this decision and is asking developers to explain why they need to use accessibility services. “We’re evaluating responsible and innovative uses of accessibility services. While we complete this evaluation, we are pausing the 30 day notice we previously contacted you about,” Google says in the email.
Google then goes on to say that, “If you use the BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE permission in your app for any purpose not relating to, or in addition to, helping users with accessibility needs use Android devices and apps, you must update the android:description element in your accessibility service definition to provide user-facing disclosure of the Accessibility Service API: before asking the user to enable this permission within your app.” This means Google is asking developers to give full disclosure for their usage of the accessibility services, such as what they do with this level of access and why they need it, and for now that is sufficient to keep your application on the Google Play Store.
Google finally closes the email asking developers to provide feedback on why their application benefits users even though it uses accessibility services, stating, “If you believe your app uses the Accessibility API for a responsible, innovative purpose that isn’t related to accessibility, please respond to this email and tell us more about how your app benefits users. This kind of feedback may be helpful to us as we complete our evaluation of accessibility services.”