Google’s ban on call recording apps to come into effect starting today | #cybersecurity | #cyberattack

Google’s policy change to enhance the security and privacy of its users will finally clamp down on third-party call recording apps available on Play Store starting today. However, at the time of filing the article, most of the call recording apps were still listed on the Play Store. Even if all the third-party call recording apps get unlisted from the Play Store, most Android users won’t face much difficulty as the new policy won’t impact built-in call recording apps.  Most Android smartphones today have a call recording feature built-in which can be turned on while answering the call or activated from the device setting.

Speaking to Business Today on Google’s policy changes, Prabhu Ram, Head – Industry Intelligence Group at CMR, said “The intent of the policy changes in Google Play Store is directed at enhancing user privacy and security. This policy change will only impact third-party apps on the Google Play Store that enable call recording. The top five smartphone majors in India, including Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, Vivo and OPPO, as well as other majors, such as OnePlus, offer in-built native call recording features on their devices.”

Announced on April 6 2022, Google gave a grace period of over 30 days to the app developers to comply with the new rules. For instance, the popular caller ID app Truecaller had introduced the call recording feature but after Google’s policy change, does not offer it any longer.

“We had introduced call recording for all Android smartphones based on overwhelming consumer demand. 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,” said a Truecaller spokesperson.

Android smartphones with built-in call recording:

Many Android original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have call recorder features built into their Android smartphones. From Samsung to Xiaomi to OnePlus, most of the brands have their user interface and even pre-install apps.

Samsung is another brand that has an automatic call recording feature built-in and can be enabled from the phone’s settings. Search call record in the settings and turn on the call record toggle. Xiaomi, for long, had a built-in call recorder feature as a part of its MiUI. A call record icon appears in the options of an ongoing call, which a user can click on to record the call. Unlike automatic call recording features, this one is a manual feature. This feature is accessible on all Redmi, Poco, and Xiaomi (Mi) smartphones in India.

If using a OnePlus smartphone, a call record option appears while answering a call.

A similar call recording feature is built-in smartphones from Oppo, Vivo, realme and Tecno. With most smartphones, the feature requests for microphone, calls and storage access.

Unlike Apple’s closed ecosystem where users can only download apps from the respective App Store, Android users always had an option to sideload apps using the APK files. But sideloading apps have always been a gateway for hackers to install malware and take over control of the Android smartphone, and has never been recommended. Industry reports reveal that with Android 13, Google is further making it difficult for sideloaded apps to gain access to accessibility services. These are the same accessibility services that many of the app developers were using for call recording apps to work.

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