Google to remove apps that misuse its 'Accessibility Services' from Play Store


Google is apparently bringing a feature with Oreo 8.1 update which will clear storage by reducing the size of inactive apps. If they are unable to convince the company within 30 days of receiving the mail, their apps will be taken down in the Play Store.

Google is letting developers know that the tech giant is cracking down on how they employ its Accessibility Services and APIs in their apps.

AndroidPolice got hold of one such email received by BatterySaver, which reads, "We're contacting you because your app, BatterySaver System Shortcut, with package 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".

Android Police speculates that Google is taking this course of action for security reasons.

Accessibility services are now often found in banking trojans, mobile ransomware strains, click-fraud bots, adware, and about any other malware category.

"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". Google states that developers can alternatively remove the request for accessibility services within the app, or can choose to unpublish their app.

If you're using an Android smartphone with very limited storage, you probably have the habit of checking how much space each of your apps occupy.

On the other hand, it will consider those apps that have recently been used as "active" even if even it is in background being used by any other app. You can also go check which apps you've granted accessibility access to and whether you trust them or not.

"All violations are tracked".

Developers have 30 days to comply and update their apps. Besides this, Google seems to have included a feature in the Android 8.1 Oreo update that will address this pain point that exists now.

This move will impact some of the apps in the Play Store.

In addition, this change will affect only the distribution of malware via the official Play Store. Android has various Accessibility Services that can be used by the developers to improve their apps, but some apps like the LastPass have been using these services for creating a unique overlay on the UI and also control other apps.