Why Google is cracking down on third-party call recording apps – Technology News, Firstpost
FP explainersApr 27, 2022 16:55:26 IST
One of the best uses of smartphones on Android is the ability to record conversations. Many people will agree that the ability to record conversations 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 was not an option.
Now, though, it’s only coming to an end for Google: updating its policy to extend support for third-party call recording apps from the Play Store by denying access to the Accessibility API from May 11.
The reason Google gave for this policy update was that the Accessibility API was only intended to be used by developers to build apps for people with disabilities to access their devices.
Restricted call recording capabilities for years
Since 2015, Google has been restricting Android’s ability to record calls. With Android 6, Google blocked access to real call recording by removing the call recording API from Android. With Android 10, Google has disabled the ability to call records through the microphone. This already took place in 2019.
Using the Accessibility API was basically a loophole, which Google had been ignoring for a while. Well, that’s until this year.
Google protects itself
The main reason why Google has to shut down any system that allows a user to record a conversation on his or her Android device is because of the laws and regulations of various states in the US where it is located.
In the US, federal law requires only one party (usually the recorded one) 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.
According to the policy update, Google is targeting apps that record calls without alerting the person on the other end of the line (i.e. the person being recorded). But even if an app notifies all parties before recording, it still can’t use the Accessibility API, they’ll have to do it some other way.
After all third-party apps have been banned, Google will still allow users to record calls if the phone has a native call recording feature. In other words, if you’ve been using the Google Phone app, you can still record calls.
This opens a new Pandora’s box for users who need to use the feature quite regularly. The only viable alternative option in such a scenario is for a user to use an app that uses three-way conversations. Here, an app adds a third party to the conversation, usually a bot, who records the conversation. Such apps are not only expensive, but they cannot be trusted to store your audio data in a legitimate way.