Last month, we told you about Google contacting developers for some of the most well-known apps in the Play Store. In their correspondence, Google let these developers know that it would soon ban the wide-ranging use of accessibility services in Android. Accessibility services were to be used strictly to help disabled individuals. Developers would have to update their apps or have them removed from the Play Store to comply with the policy.
It now looks like Google is walking that new policy back.
Android Police is reporting that several developers have received emails stating that Google is pausing the enforcement of the policy for 30 days. This gives it enough time to “evaluate responsible and innovative uses of accessibility services”. Google goes on to say that it will notify the developers once the evaluation is complete. Developers will then have 30 days to update their apps if they are found to be non-compliant after the review.
While we aren’t privy to Google’s thinking, it sounds to us like it now realizes this policy could hurt some huge apps. Everything from Nova Launcher to LastPass takes advantage of accessibility services. Forcing developers to significantly alter or remove their apps could hurt the Play Store as a whole.
Granting accessibility services access to an app is a security risk. We understand why Google is worried about so many apps requesting access. It seems to us that the answer is not removing access, but rather working with developers on a system that works for everyone. Maybe this step back is Google realizing that.