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The apps you’ll lose with the new Play Store update

Sherice Torres, director of marketing for Android Pay, shows the icon for the Android Pay app on a phone at Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco yesterday. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Sherice Torres, director of marketing for Android Pay, shows the icon for the Android Pay app on a phone at Google I/O 2015 in San Francisco yesterday. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Published May 3, 2022

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By James Browning

Johannesburg - Google has announced a policy change that will effectively ban call recording apps from the Play Store.

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The change coming on May 11, will leave Google with a monopoly on developing apps able to record phone calls.

The latest Developer Program Policy Update does not prohibit call recording apps from the Play Store, but removes the functionality of the underlying Accessibility API.

Application Programming Interfaces are how third-party apps interact with the Android system and this change removes the ability to access and record calls.

The policy update states that this functionality is being removed as the Accessibility API was designed and intended for use by applications that improve access to those with disabilities, not audio call recording.

However, there is no other way for third parties to access audio calls, with the last hint of plans for a dedicated call audio API coming from a temporary developer preview in 2020.

Critically, this will leave Google’s own phone application as the only Play Store option for call recording as popular competitors such as Cube ACR and CallApp fall away.

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The policy update also includes changes aimed at short-term loan apps, apps making misleading claims, and those that include hate speech.

The minor changes should help weed out apps making wild promises and which are clearly scams, such as those promising to cure cancer or function as a breathalyser.

While large companies’ definitions of “hate speech” are nebulous at best and often arbitrarily enforced, the updates to this section are unlikely to result in any noticeable changes.

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While Android devices are seen as the preferred system for those looking for customisation and broad options compared to the more restrictive Apple OS, Google’s policy changes over the last several years have continued to give the tech giant a tighter hold over the Android ecosystem.

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