Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh." Ivan covers Big Tech, India, policy, AI, security, platforms, and apps for TNW. That's one heck of a mixed bag. He likes to say "Bleh."
It used to be easy enough to record a phone call on your Android device, but that’s changing starting now. A recent update to the Google Play Store developer policy will force third-party call recording apps to stop offering their services.
Google’s reasoning is the potential misuse of the accessibility API, which is utilized by most call recording apps to enable this function. The company noted “The Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording.”
Truecaller, one of the most popular dialer and caller identity apps out there, said it will stop offering its recording feature:
At Truecaller, we had introduced call recording for all Android smartphones based on overwhelming consumer requests. Call Recording on Truecaller was free for everyone, permission-based and required users to enable the feature using the Google Accessibility API.
However, as per the updated Google Developer Program policies, we are unable to offer call recording any longer. This will not affect devices that have call recording built into the device natively.
Other apps, such as NLL Apps, which brought the issue to attention, will also have to remove their recording features.
As Truecaller’s statement says, this won’t affect recording features offered natively by phone makers.
As Android expert Mishaal Rahman explained on Twitter, native dialers get access to the voice call API, so they can record calls directly without having to involve the accessibility API like third-party apps do:
System apps can provide native call recording capabilities without the use of Accessibility because they're able to access the VOICE_CALL audio source. This requires the CAPTURE_AUDIO_OUTPUT permission to access, which has a protection level of signature|privileged|role. pic.twitter.com/QNKtCVvzkw
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) April 21, 2022
Google has tried to crack down on call recording apps in Android 6 and Android 9 by putting restrictions on certain APIs. With this new change, it’s plugging the accessibility API workaround developers were using to record calls.
Sadly, there’s no alternative to this API at the moment, so if your Android phone doesn’t have a native recording feature, you’re out of luck.
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