A few days ago, Google announced that it would clamp down on apps that use Accessibility Services “incorrectly.” This move has the potential to cripple apps like LastPass and Action Launcher that use Accessibility Services in different ways, but LastPass confirmed it will not be affected by the changes.
To provide some context, apps use Accessibility Services not only to assist those with disabilities, but also to allow for expanded functionality within the confines of Android that isn’t explicitly intended for disabled users. Google decided to clamp down on apps that use Accessibility Services possibly due to security concerns, though this will have the effect of affecting how these apps work.
In a blog post, LastPass, one of the affected apps, confirmed that there is “no immediate impact to our Android users.” In LastPass’ case, the password manager used Accessibility Services not only to autofill passwords with App Fill, but by also easily managing links you’ve copied using Clipboard Actions.
Google Play may lose some popular apps due to their use of Accessibility Services
For LastPass, part of the long-term solution is likely the autofill API built into Android 8.0 Oreo, which allows for the same functionality as App Fill. We’re not aware of an API that replicates Clipboard Actions, so it is unknown what the long-term solution for such a solution would be at the system level.
Even so, it appears that LastPass will receive a reprieve from possible upcoming removals from the Play Store, good news for those that rely on the service for their password managing needs.
More good news: a post on the Android Developers Blog also confirmed that Google is working with LastPass, as well as 1Password, Dashlane, and Keeper to “help them with their implementations towards becoming certified on Android.” According to Google, the Play Store will feature a curated list of certified password managers, which can be linked to the “Add service” button in settings.
We will see how many apps get affected by the new changes, but at least some of the major ones will be on the sidelines as the changes occur.
November 16, 2017 at 12:26PM