In case this hasn’t been clear previously, I love Android. The main reason I love it is because apps have loads of freedom to do whatever they want, and this makes it customisable. But that is about to change.

The problem is the accessibility features. Google, like most people, want their phones to be usable by people in wheelchairs, the elderly and anyone else with a disability that may prevent them from using a phone normally. And like most people (except Apple) Google realise that they can’t do everything in this field. So what do they do? They release an API. But that didn’t work out as planned.

The problem, you see, is that people realised that the new API could give them a lot more power over the phone than they could otherwise have, so they did a power-abuse system, using the API to give their apps features they shouldn’t really have.

And that’s not all. The apps utilising the Accessability API actually violate Google’s terms of service. In Google’s Google Play Permission Policy, they say the Accessibility API shouldn’t be used for features that don’t add accessibility. Though Google have actually been turning a blind eye for the past few years, they’re now cracking down.

And the Accessibility API isn’t just used by those sleazy apps that exist solely to give the dev advertising money. The API is used by such popular apps as Greenify, the popular battery-saving app, Tesla Coil’s Nova Launcher, the most customisable launcher on the planet and Tasker, the premium but ultra-powered automation app that will let your phone do anything.

Google has a list of apps that use the API, and over the coming weeks will be calling the devs of the apps that use it. If Google don’t deem it worthy to be using the API, they will force the dev to remove the features that use it. If the dev doesn’t listen, Google will remove the app from the Play Store and may even delete the developer account used by the developer. Sheesh.

Of course, these phone calls could be hilarious. “Hello Greenify, this is Google and we’d like to know how your app uses our accessibility features.” “Well, Greenify increases battery life by shutting down apps using too much of it.” “Oh! I see. Except that doesn’t comply with the terms in our Permissions Policy” *Frantic note creeps into voice of Greenify spokesperson.* “Yes it does! We, er… By increasing a phone’s battery life, Greenify, er, decreases the need for you to plug it in! Yes! Think about athritic people, they won’t want to have to bend down to plug their phone in now, would they? Would be painful, you know…” and so on.

One of the other apps that uses Accessibility features… incorrectly, let’s say, is the popular password manager LastPass, but they seem to be exempt for the purge. In fact, they’re working with Google to allow Android Oreo’s Autofill API to accomplish what the Accessibility API to do previously. No word on what will happen to Nougat and below, though.

Source: How-To Geek


10 thoughts on “Android Apps To Lose Functionality

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