FP ExplainersApr 27, 2022 16:55:26 IST
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 professions, for whom taking notes on a simple paper with a pen, wasn’t an option.
Now, though, all that is about to end for Google is updating its policy that ensures third-party call recording apps will longer be supported by the Play Store, by denying access to its Accessibility API, starting from May 11.
The reason that Google gave for this policy update, was that 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
Ever since 2015, Google has been restricting 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 records over the microphone. This took place back in 2019.
Using the Accessibility API was basically a loophole, which Google had ignored for some time now, Well, 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 his or her Android device is because of the laws and regulations of various states in the US, where it is based.
In the US, Federal law only requires one party (generally the recorded) to consent to a conversation being recorded. 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.
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 recording, it still will not be able to use the Accessibility API, they will have to go about it some other way.
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 rather regularly. The only viable alternative option 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, which records the conversation. Not only are such apps expensive, but they also cannot be trusted to store your audio data in a legitimate manner.