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Android Operating Systems Software Technology

Google Puts Android Accessibility Crackdown On Hold (slashgear.com) 28

Last month, Google issued a warning to Android app developers that they will no longer be able to access Android accessibility service functions in their apps, unless they can demonstrate that those functions are specifically used to help users with "disabilities." Since a lot of password managers use the Accessibility API, as well as poplar apps like Tasker automation and Greenify battery saver, there was a large amount of backlash from developers and users alike. According to SlashGear, Google is putting the Android accessibility crackdown on hold. From the report: Google has now sent another email that basically says "we'll think about it." It is evaluating "responsible and innovative use" of those services on a case to case basis. It is also requiring developers to explicitly inform users why they are asking for accessibility permissions rather than just informing them. This, of course, puts a heavier burden on Google, as it has to be more involved in the screening of apps rather than just rely on good ol' machine learning and automation. Developers and users probably won't mind, if it means still having access to those features that make Android a platform above all the rest.
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Google Puts Android Accessibility Crackdown On Hold

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  • Higher priorities (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2017 @06:25PM (#55704275)

    How about cracking down on manufacturers who don't provide five years of security updates? They can control this through the licensing of Google Mobile Services, and use it to impose other restrictions on manufacturers. Let's stop making excuses for Android and Google. This is far more important than the topic of the story, and should be a much higher priority for Google.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Let's name and shame. Motorola still hasn't patched KRACK on the G5 plus[1] yet.
      What about other vendors? Is your phone patched yet?

      [1] The G5 plus was released in April 2017, and they're not on top of this super critical security bug.

      • What about other vendors? Is your phone patched yet?

        Yes, my Jolla 1 smartphone (2013) is patched against BlueBorne since version 2.1.2 (currently at 2.1.3, like virtually any thing supported by Sailfish OS).

        The catch : It's not android. It's a full blown GNU/Linux smartphone OS, by the same guys who used to do Meamo/Meego at Nokia (until the whole Elop/Microsoft shit-storm happened to them).

    • by b0o ( 5185395 )
      Definitely agree. It's obscene that these expensive devices lose relevance after the 2 year mark.
      • Expensive? My last two Android phones were $20 and $30 and left me wanting for very little. If you're continuing to hand over $800 or even $300 to these guys, every year or two, in return for anything less than perfection... perhaps it's time to look at your role in enabling the obscenity.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The accessibility functions are also a massive security issue for apps that use them improperly. None of that is mentioned in the summary, yet it's very important to provide that context for this discussion.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This article is missing all the context to this debate. Google sent the email in response to the Indian "Hike" messenger (now the #1 app in India [google.com]), which came up with a creative use for Accessibility permission [stackexchange.com] to make the app go viral at the click of a button on top of other social networks including WhatsApp.

      Before they used this trick they were nowhere near the #1 spot in the Indian app store.

  • "the rest"? (Score:1, Troll)

    by sqorbit ( 3387991 )
    " if it means still having access to those features that make Android a platform above all the rest" What is that? Above all the rest? Since there's only one (iOS) real competition, what does "above all the rest" even mean? And is this saying that the accessibility features is the thing that puts it ahead?
  • Biased much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Developers and users probably won't mind, if it means still having access to those features that make Android a platform above all the rest.

    Why are biased trollish statements left in the summary? That's an opinion that distracts from the real issue, which is what the permissions do and why they're a risk for users. Perhaps I prefer iOS to Android, and there's no good reason for flamebait like that to be in the summary.

    The real issue here is that there are plenty of useful things that can be done with those permissions, but they also pose a security risk for apps that use them improperly. Given that the user can't see the source of the apps or v

  • The expression sounds kind of silly when "all the rest" is pretty much exclusively one thing.
  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @07:08PM (#55704413)

    INACCESSIBLE! ;)

  • ... as well as poplar apps like...

Just go with the flow control, roll with the crunches, and, when you get a prompt, type like hell.

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