Alphabet Inc (NASDAQ:GOOGL) owns the world’s most popular mobile operating system, Android,
which is lauded by developers for its relative openness and ability to adapt to the developer’s will.
But as XDA Developers reports, Google appears to be shutting down one of developers’ favorite features soon:
Some of the most innovative applications on the Play Store are built on using APIs in ways that Google never intended. There are apps that can remap your volume keys to skip music tracks, record and play back touch inputs on webpages or games, and even provide alternative navigation keys so you can use your device’s entire screen. All of these examples that I’ve just mention rely on Android’s Accessibility APIs. But that may soon change, as the Google Play Store team is sending out emails to developers telling them that they can no longer implement Accessibility Services unless they follow Google’s guidelines.
Accessibility Service is designed to help disabled users better access key operating system functions. For instance, a blind person won’t be able to respond to on-screen visual prompts, so they’d instead need to use voice cues and physical buttons to perform specific tasks like answering a phone call.
That’s where Accessibility Service comes in, allowing developers to remap keys to do what they desire. Clearly, devs have been exploiting this functionality to do other things, however, much to users’ delight.
Millions of users could be affected by the change, assuming Google follows through with it, so the situation is worth monitoring in coming days and weeks.
Alphabet Inc shares were unchanged in premarket trading Thursday. Year-to-date, GOOGL has gained 30.79%, versus a 16.36% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.