Google is now in the process of letting developers know that it intends to be strict on how developers employ Google’s Accessibility Services and APIs in their apps. So these devs need to prove that they are indeed using these services in aid of disabled users using their apps, or else their apps can be taken down from the Play Store.
The mothership has started sending out emails to app developers regarding the issue of the use of Accessibility Services, because these services are being used for other purposes. The content of the email goes like this:
We’re contacting you because your app, [name of app], with package name [APK name] is requesting the ‘
android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE.‘ Apps requesting accessibility services should only be used to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps. Your app must comply with our Permissions policy and the Prominent Disclosure requirements of our User Data policy.
Action required: If you aren’t already doing so, you must explain to users how your app is using the ‘
android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE‘ to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps. Apps that fail to meet this requirement within 30 days may be removed from Google Play. Alternatively, you can remove any requests for accessibility services within your app. You can also choose to unpublish your app.
In truth, developers can use Accessibility Services to affect how other apps behave with their own apps. Password management apps sometimes use Accessibility Services so users can automatically fill in text fields in other apps with their login credentials. These same services can also help apps read information from other apps, and Google can always point to instances where the Accessibility Service is abused, and the security issues that follow.
But users like James Fenn, developer of the app called Status, says that it would be better if Google found a compromise on accessibility. “That said, I wish they would find another way to go about resolving this that didn’t involve the removal of hundreds of good, useful apps from the Play Store,” Fenn said.