Google bans this type of popular app from the Play Store

Tons of apps are available for Android devices, covering various categories from games and daily planners to smart home apps. You might even come across fake apps created by hackers.

Most app categories have specific goals in mind. For example, did you know that there is a category dedicated to comics? There is also a section for casino games and there are nearly 5,000 apps in the parent category.

For the most part, these categories seem innocuous. But read on to find out why Google is taking action to remove all apps in a category.

Here is the backstory

There are many apps in the Google Play Store that are questionable. Whenever possible, Google works quickly to rid the App Store of malicious apps before they do serious damage.

But it gets tricky when app developers circumvent the legalities and functions of Android’s internal processes. Although it was never intended for developers to use it this way, Google’s Accessibility API can be modified to allow apps to record audio calls.

The prevalence of these apps has spawned a subcategory called call recording apps. An update to how Google’s Accessibility API works will strip the Play Store of all those secret check-in apps.

According to a Developer Program policy from earlier this month, Google listed several policy changes taking effect later this year. For example, for the Accessibility API, Google specifies that it “is not designed and cannot be requested for the audio recording of remote calls”.

There is a caveat, as call recording can only be offered through the Android phone dialer. This basically means that only Google and Android phone makers can enable the recording feature, and any third-party app that does so violates Google’s Developer Policy.

What can you do about it

There can be legitimate scenarios where you want to record a phone call. For example, dialing a number for a work meeting or the call contains important information if you are talking to a lawyer. But in some states, it’s illegal to record someone (either voice or video) without their knowledge.

Your state might have a two-party consent system depending on where you live. This means that both parties to the call must know that it is being recorded and consent to it. Otherwise, as in Florida, the person recording the call could be criminally prosecuted for illegal recording.

In May, Google changes its accessibility API policy. Developers will no longer be allowed to publish apps to the Google Play Store that could potentially record calls without the knowledge of either party. This means that you will soon no longer find this category of apps in the Play Store.

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