The built-in call recorder is an integral part of custom OEM skins such as MIUI and ColorOS. It also comes preloaded on Google Pixel phones, integrated into the Phone app. But it is not universally available on Android phones due to regional laws. If your phone does not have the functionality, you can always install a third-party app from the Google Play Store to get the job done. But unfortunately, a forthcoming change in Google Play policy will kill all third-party call recording apps once and for all.
Google has actively discouraged the recording of calls on Android over the years. With Android 6.0, Google eliminated the official call recording API that allowed developers to easily embed the call recording feature into their apps. This prompted app developers to look for unofficial ways to enable call recording. But again, Google slapped some of these solutions in Android 9.0. And with Android 10, the company completely blocked the recording of calls over the microphone.
As a last resort, developers started using Android’s accessibility service to offer call recording on devices running Android 10 and later. Google has now announced that it will not allow third party apps to use the Accessibility API for call sound recording, which spells the end of third party call recording apps.
Google’s updated Play Store policy indicates several changes coming to the Accessibility API. And one of these changes will prevent third-party app developers from enabling call recording using the API. The change will take effect on May 11.
The Accessibility API is not designed and remote call sound recording cannot be requested.
In a recent developer webinar, Google clarified that this change would only affect third-party apps:
“Remote control in this context refers to call audio recording, where the person at the other end is unaware that the recording is taking place. So if the app is the default caller on the phone and also preloaded, availability feature is not required to access the incoming audio stream and will therefore do not be in conflict. As this is a clarification of an existing policy, the new language will apply to all apps from 11 May. “
In short, if your phone is preloaded with the call recording feature, you have nothing to worry about – it will continue to work as intended. This upcoming change will only apply to third-party Play Store apps that specifically use the Accessibility API to enable call recording. The Google Phone app, which offers built-in call recording, is exempt from the change.
Google has not clarified how it intends to enforce this upcoming policy change. It’s not clear whether Google will kick out third-party apps that do not comply with the Play Store change after the May deadline or not.
Source: Google Play Console, Google Play Developer Policy Updates