Google continues to restrict the functionality of instincts under the slogan of user security. It has already blocked the use of the App Accessibility API, so all call recording programs have disappeared from the Google Play Store. Currently, users can install such programs from third-party sources. However, in Android 13, the search giant will block the use of the accessibility API for all third-party applications.
The Accessibility API is a powerful developer tool to help users with disabilities read screens, enter data, and more. This uses various workarounds of standard OS features, making this API attractive to malware. For example, FluBot tricks users into enabling accessibility APIs for malware that cannot be removed.
Google has long struggled with how to work with applications that use accessibility services. In 2017, Google threatened to remove apps from the Google Play Store that used the accessibility API for everything but helping users with disabilities.
Google has updated its policy in 2021, and now developers who want to use in-app accessibility for reasons other than helping users with disabilities must obtain Google Play approval after completing the application.
In Android 13, Google will not allow apps downloaded outside of the app store to access the accessibility API. If you tap the option to turn it on, a pop-up will appear on your phone with the message “For security reasons, this option is currently unavailable.” While this may seem alarming to other app stores at first,
Google says this change will not affect preloaded or third-party app stores. That is, viruses built into the firmware will be able to use the accessibility API, as well as viruses from application stores.