Google will remove call recording apps from the Play Store

A photo of the Pixel 6 Pro with the call recording app mentioned in this article

It’s time to say goodbye to your favorite third-party call recording app.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

Google has cleaned up the Play Store to eliminate bad apps, but it breaks some functionality in the process. If you relied on a particular third-party app to do call recording, you may not have access to it soon.

As reported by android fontthe developer of the famous ACR call recording the app has posted to Reddit to air their grievances about an upcoming Play Store policy change. Earlier this month, Google announced that Android apps would be prohibited from using the Accessibility API for call recording outside of its intended use. This is the specific API that developers use to build these apps, although it was not designed for this purpose. As the name suggests, this is actually an accessibility feature.

Google’s policy for the Accessibility API is that it is “not designed [for] and cannot be requested for audio recording of a remote call. In other words, tApplications currently using it for this particular function are technically against its intended use. The new rules go into effect on May 11, which coincidentally is also the first day of Google’s Developer Conference.

In a follow-up online seminar for developers, Google has expanded its policy changes. A moderator employee of the event explained that the new policy affects applications that record calls without making it explicit to the other person online, which may come up against various state laws. Developers who wish to retain this access will need to add a disclaimer and require explicit consent before the call is recorded or use an alternate call recording method.

As a journalist who relies on recording everything to save it, I can understand how frustrating this news is for people who will have to find a new way around a routine workflow. I also see why Google makes this decision. As I mentioned, the company has revised its rules on the Play Store, everything to sell more people on Android devices and the rest of the ecosystem.

Google still allows call recording on its Google Phone app, which some have criticized as not being a developer-friendly move. But Samsung’s phone app can still record, precisely because it doesn’t use the Accessibility API. Either way, it makes sense for Google to allow its own product to use the Accessibility API, which it manages. I wonder if there’s a future where Google separates call recording from accessibility options and reopens it to developers, whether to get back in their good graces or just to maintain this feature on Android phones.


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