EXPLAINED: WHY GOOGLE IS CRACKING DOWN ON THIRD PARTY CALL RECORDING APPS

One of the best uses of smartphones on Android is the ability to record calls. Many people will attest that the ability to record calls has saved their lives on several occasions. This is especially true for journalists or people in similar professions, for whom taking notes on a simple paper with a pen wasn’t an option.

The Crackdown
All that is about to end for Google is updating its policy that ensures the Play Store will longer support third-party call recording apps by denying access to its Accessibility API, starting from May 11.

Google gave for this policy update because the Accessibility API was only meant to be used by developers to build apps for people with disabilities to access their devices.

Has Been Restricting Call Recording Capabilities For Years
Since 2015, Google has been restricting Android’s ability to record calls. With Android 6, Google blocked access to accurate call recording by removing Android’s call recording API. With Android 10, Google disabled the ability to call records over the microphone. This took place back in 2019.

Using the Accessibility API was a loophole that Google had ignored for some time now; that is, until this year.

Google Protecting Itself
The main reason why Google needs to shut down any system that allows a user to record a call on their Android device is because of the laws and regulations of various states in the US, where it is based.

Federal law only requires one party (generally the recorded) to consent to a conversation being recorded in the US. However, several state laws contradict this. Google has decided to play it safe and stay on the side of the law in all jurisdictions.

As per the policy update, Google will be targeting apps that record calls without alerting the person on the other end of the call (i.e., the person being recorded). However, even if an app does notify all parties before registering, it still will not be able to use the Accessibility API; they will have to go about it some other way.

Grey Areas
Having banned all third-party apps, Google will still allow users to record calls if the phone has a native call recording feature. In other words, if you have been using the Google Phone app, you will still be able to record calls.

This opens up another pandora’s box for users who need to use the feature regularly. The only viable alternative in such a scenario is that a user uses an app that uses three-way calling. Here, an app adds a third party to the call, usually a bot, recording the conversation. Such apps are expensive, but they cannot be trusted to store your audio data legitimately.

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