Pent shared on Tasker Google Group that Google emailed him a notification about the changes in apps that are available via Play Store. According to the email, developers have 30 days to remove the accessibility access from their apps, unless the app is designed to aid a disabled person.

Tasker Accessibility Service

Going against the new policy will effect in the apps getting banned from the Play Store. Tasker’s accessibility service is required to trigger an app context. According to Pent – pre Lollipop devices will lose the access to this trigger completely as planned changes in Tasker cannot be implemented in the older API levels.

There are other actions that will be affected by this. Pent mentioned back action, but I’m sure more actions and plugins will get affected too.

Email sent to devs

We’re contacting you because your app, appName, with package name com.app.name is requesting ‘android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE’. Apps requesting accessibility services should only be used to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps. Your app must comply with our Permissions policy and the Prominent Disclosure requirements of our User Data policy.

Action required: If you aren’t already doing so, you must explain to users how your app is using the ‘android.permission.BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE’ to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps. Apps that fail to meet this requirement within 30 days may be removed from Google Play. Alternatively, you can remove any requests for accessibility services within your app. You can also choose to un-publish your app.

If you need to make changes to your apps. please follow these steps:

  • Read through the Permissions and User Data policies for more details and make sure your app complies with all policies listed in the Developer Program Policies.
  • If you don’t need the BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE permission in your app or the permission is being used for something other than helping users with disabilities use Android devices and apps:
    1. Remove your request for this permission from your app’s manifest
    2. Sign In to Console and upload your modified, policy-compliant APK.
  • Or, if you need the BIND_ACCESSIBILITY_SERVICE permission in your app to help users with disabilities use Android devices and apps:
    1. Include the following snippet in your app’s store listing description: ”This app uses Accessibility services”
    2. Provide prominent user-facing disclosure of this usage before asking the user to enable this permission within your app. Your disclosure must meet each of the following requirements:
      • Disclosure must be provided via the android:summary and android:description elements of the AccessibilityServiceInfo class.
      • Disclosure must describe the functionality that the Accessibility Service permission is enabling for your app. Each feature used with the Accessibility Service request must be declared in your disclosure with justification.

Alternatively, you can choose to unpublish the app.

Source: ausdroid.net

Possible Workaround

In theory, explaining the use of accessibility service to the user could suffice.  Including the clear statement of how the accessibility features are used. It’s still down to Google to allow these apps to exist in the Google Play Store. As the devs have 30 days to comply, by either modifying the code or updating the app description I would encourage you to keep all your apps backed up just in case. Google’s automated systems (I seriously doubt in the human oversight in the first pass)  are known for wrecking havoc among the Google services users. I get my videos demonetized on a regular basis – as it seem to be breaching the Terms of Service for YouTube Partners program.

It saddens me to see this as me and probably a lot of you use the accessibility services in Tasker one way or another. Will we get an external Tasker version to sideload? Time will tell!