One of the best uses of smartphones on Android is the ability to record calls. Many people will attest to the fact that the ability to record calls has saved their lives on a number of occasions. This is especially true for journalists or people in similar jobs for whom taking notes on a plain piece of paper with a pen was not an option.
Now, however, all that’s left for Google to do is update its policy, which ensures third-party call recording apps are longer supported by the Play Store by denying access to its Accessibility API starting May 11th.
The reason Google gave for this policy update was that the Accessibility API should only be used by developers to create apps for people with disabilities to access their devices.
Limiting call recording capabilities for years
Since 2015, Google has restricted Android’s ability to record calls. With Android 6, Google blocked access to real call recording by removing Android’s call recording API. With Android 10, Google disabled the ability to call recordings through the microphone. This happened back in 2019.
The use of the Accessibility API was basically a loophole that Google had been ignoring for some time, well that’s until this year.
Google protects itself
The main reason why Google needs to shut down any system that allows a user to record a call on his or her Android device is due to the laws and regulations of various states in the US where it is based.
In the US, federal law only requires that one party (usually the one being recorded) consent to the recording of a conversation. However, there are several state laws that contradict this. Google has decided to play it safe and stay on the side of the law in all jurisdictions.
Per the policy update, Google is targeting apps that record calls without notifying the person on the other end of the call (i.e. the person being recorded). But even if an app notifies all parties before recording, it still can’t use the accessibility API, they have to do it some other way.
After banning all third-party apps, Google still allows users to record calls if the phone has a native call recording feature. In other words, if you’ve been using the Google Phone app, you can still record calls.
This opens another Pandora’s box for users who need to use the feature on a more regular basis. The only viable alternative in such a scenario is for a user to use an app that uses three-way calling. Here an app adds a third party to the conversation, usually a bot, who records the conversation. Not only are such apps expensive, but they cannot be trusted to store your audio in a legitimate way.
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