Google to remove apps that use Accessibility Services not aimed at disabled users from Play Store

Google plans to remove all apps that do not comply with its “Permissions policy and Prominent Disclosure requirements,” the search giant announced. Some developers that are using a special API meant to be used to create apps for users with disabilities to make apps that have other purposes, have been contacted by Google and asked to make some changes to their apps.

Among the apps that are using this API for users with disabilities, you might have already heard about LastPass, Tasker or Network Monitor Mini, but there are other popular apps using it as well.

Developers make use of Google's API to add some functionality to their apps that have nothing to do with its initial purpose, such as overlay content, fill in text fields and so on. The reason Google doesn't want these apps to keep using the API is that they can potentially create a security risk once a user grants the right permissions.


According to Google, all apps that fail to meet its requirements within 30 days will be removed from Play Store. Another option for devs who are using the API is to remove any requests for accessibility services within their app.

Well, that's just fine and dandy, but what about those apps that are using the API for the right purpose – to help disabled people? Aren't those supposed to be exposed to the same security risks? If yes, why aren't they being removed as well?

Update: We've received a statement from LastPass that states the changes imposed by Google will not affect users in any way. There's also a blog post where LastPass developers explain how they're working with Google "to ensure a long-term solution that meets user needs and their accessibility requirements." Check out the source link below for more details.

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15 Comments

1. Phullofphil

Posts: 1832; Member since: Feb 10, 2009

Good news. I hope they can crack down on malware as well. Or whatever virus ride on some apps in the store.

2. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

WTF!? That would be just an outright stupid restriction. Instead of getting off their ass and actually checking apps that get into the play store, they're now looking to take the security via obscurity route by making android less versatile. Oh well, better make a Titanium backup of my 1Password, Easy Copy, Universal Copy, Navbar Apps, Shortcutter, and several other handy apps that aren't targeted to disabled users but use the API. Don't need nor want scroogle stupidly dictating what apps I can use on my device. "Well, that's just fine and dandy, but what about those apps that are using the API for the right purpose – to help disabled people? Aren't those supposed to be exposed to the same security risks? If yes, why aren't they being removed as well?" Exactly! This isn't going to make anyone's device more secure, this is merely security via obsucrity. If the app devs were malicious to begin with, they'd just lie through their teeth about it. In the end, the non-malicious yet extremely handy applications that take advantage of the API would be the only ones lost with this stupid restriction.

3. BGChicago

Posts: 227; Member since: Nov 16, 2014

Google wants to slowly transition Android in iOS wanna be, not realizing that is killing main benefits of it's OS.

5. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Unfortunately, scroogle is proving that case more and more to be true. However, as long as we can have third party app stores like the Galaxy Apps store and Amazon App Store, it'll just be pushing devs to release their apps there instead of on the scroogle play store.

6. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

Perhaps they figured this was better than an eternal cat and mouse game.

7. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Better for their lazy ass attempt at securing the play store, sure, worse for the consumer and possibly devs.

9. Podrick

Posts: 1285; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Well said. I wish there was a third major smartphone OS out there which was more versatile. Allow native Firewalls, Xprivacy like app without root and all. Its just an excuse, Google just want to make it harder for people to disable their spying services, and easy for them to collect user data.

10. samystic

Posts: 242; Member since: Mar 25, 2012

@MrShazam - Have you found an alternative to EasyCopy and its features? I haven't yet.

15. MrShazam

Posts: 987; Member since: Jun 22, 2017

Nope, nothing I've seen offers everything it does, not even Samsung's built in clip board manager is up to par with it. Heck, haven't even found anything up to par with it on Windows for that matter. It's simply the most versatile and best clip board manager I've ever used on any platform. I'll just forever keep a titanium backup of it on my MicroSD card. Will also try to get in contact with the dev and maybe have them bring it to the Amazon App Store.

4. An.Awesome.Guy

Posts: 636; Member since: Jan 12, 2015

Reading the comments of source I found out : it is not like the feature was made from the beginning for people with disabilities, but actually Google has changed their policy/mind Here is what they used to say in the past: " Improve your app's versatility. Accessibility can make it easier for all users, not only those with disabilities, to interact with your app. For example, if someone is using your app while cooking, accessibility features let them use voice commands instead of the touchscreen to navigate. " Link ( from internet archive) :https://web.archive.org/web/20170216065710/https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/ui/accessibility/index.html But now : "Note: Although it's beneficial to add accessibility features in your app, you should use them only for the purpose of helping users with disabilities interact with your app" Link:https://developer.android.com/guide/topics/ui/accessibility/index.html

8. Cyberchum

Posts: 1111; Member since: Oct 24, 2012

Wtf? Google is really becoming a dick. Fix your Pixel 2 XL that needs fixing, and leave useful app alone.

11. Fellwalker

Posts: 542; Member since: Apr 04, 2014

So instead of downloading from the play store, Google actually encourages us to download from elsewhere to get apps that actually work - such as password managers. How is that better?

12. LikeMyself

Posts: 631; Member since: Sep 23, 2013

Since Sundar Pichai took over as ceo, Google is no longer creative & turning more to being a clone of Apple with its software restrictions becoming more stupid & no big user improvements in newer Android versions. They try to make other stupid OSes & their hardware - Pixel looks like iPhone. Google was sold to Alphabet... Don't know why Indians are so obsessed with Apple. GTFO Sundar Pichai

14. baldilocks

Posts: 1545; Member since: Dec 14, 2008

That made very little sense.

13. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

I use quite a few apps that use these services, like Join/Nova launcher/Tasker/AutoInput. Really hope Google doesn't ban these apps. Hate to have to revert to sideloading these apps

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