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Google will remove apps that misuse Android Accessibility Services from Google Play

14 Noviembre 2017

A couple minutes ago I received this email, which can pretty much be summarized to "If your app doesn't use accessibility services for what they're meant to be for, you might as well unpublish it because we're going to take it down in a month anyway".

Google is launching a crackdown on apps that misuse Accessibility Services, threatening to remove them from the Play Store. "You can also choose to unpublish your app". The search giant basically said that they would remove an app if it doesn't follow their rules. Once they gained such access, it was game over, as this allowed the malware to install itself as device admin, download and install other malware, and execute various operations in the phone's background.

As reported by the Android Police, Google will be cracking down on Accessibility Services for security reasons too. In case developers can not establish how they essentially utilize accessibility services for the primarily intended rationale, i.e., to support the special requirements users and lend a hand to have an enhanced experience with the apps, they will be guided to eliminate these functions or risk being abandoned from the Play Store completely. When these permissions are granted, a full-screen Toast notification is used to cloak the actual screen contents. "Your app must comply with our Permissions policy and the Prominent Disclosure requirements of our User Data policy", said Google in the email it sent to Battery Saver, one of the apps that use API, reports 9to5Google.

Here's the email that Google has been pushing to developers who use any of Android's Accessibility Services. "Apps that fail to meet this requirement within 30 days may be removed from Google Play", it adds. Then after a specified time, the feature will mark apps that haven't been used in a while as inactive, and will downgrade their size by removing the cache files.

For example, the Svpeng banking Trojan abuses the feature to steal text entered into the phone's apps, open URLs and read text messages and to grant itself additional rights. Another option for devs who are using the API is to remove any requests for accessibility services within their app. While the move by Google is understandable, it threatens to remove some of the most used and innovative apps on the Play Store. Apps installed through third-party stores are not affected.

Developers have been provided with a 30-day deadline to clear out their Accessibility Services issue so we will have to wait and see what happens.

Google will remove apps that misuse Android Accessibility Services from Google Play