Google recently warned developers it would soon ban the use of Android accessibility APIs for things other than accessibility. Developers have long used the accessibility APIs to connect with the operating system, until Google notified developers they had 30 days to explain how their app was using the Accessibility APIs to help a user with disabilities or face outright removal from the Play Store. Now public outcry has Google reversing direction and pausing their bans.
Many of Android’s most popular apps use the Android accessibility APIs’ unique set of features including popular apps like: Tasker, Lastpass, and Greenify. The workaround was necessitated by the fact that Google has been so slow to build proper APIs for some of these accessibility hacks. Usage Access API, Autofill API and others are in different points along Google’s own development timeline but the fragmented Android ecosystem makes solving systemic issues far more complicated than they are with a closed system like the one Apple uses.
Will Google Android become more of a walled garden in the future? Or will they simply allow Devs to continue to use workarounds on systems that now skirt the original purpose of their creator’s intent? It’s an interesting evolution unfolding and it is impacting millions of potential customers as Android gains market share and the number of devices continues to expand in ways that will make these sorts of complications even more challenging to moderate in the near future.