Google pauses crackdown on apps that use accessibility features

The company will take 30 days to gather feedback on 'responsible' uses of accessibility code.

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Rob LeFebvre
December 8th, 2017
Engadget/Steve Dent
Engadget/Steve Dent

Almost a month ago, Google cracked down on developers that used Android's accessibility features for apps that weren't expressly created for people with disabilities. The company told developers that they had to show how their code actually helped those with a disability or face removal from the Play Store within 30 days. Now, however, Google is pausing that final solution for another month to consider "responsible and innovative uses of accessibility services."

Several developers complained about the strict policy enforcement, which could affect apps like Last Pass (which uses accessibility features to help fill in form fields and passwords), Tasker (which uses the features to monitor launched apps) and Greenify (which shuts down apps when they use too much power).

"This is really bad news," Universal Copy's developer wrote on the Android Reddit. "We will have no other choice than unpublishing the app from the Play Store."

In the current email, Google asked recipients to send feedback around their appropriate use of the accessibility features in Android: "If you believe your app uses the Accessibility API for a responsible, innovative purpose that isn't related to accessibility, please respond to this email and tell us more about how your app benefits users. This kind of feedback may be helpful to us as we complete our evaluation of accessibility services."

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