We [reported] last week that Google was taking a tighter stance with regards to their Accessibility Services APIs. The APis, which have the primary purpose of aiding disabled users with ease of access, are often used in applications that require additional Android system-level permissions to make changes; such as overlaying content on a screen, or accessing notifications. Google stated last week that apps using this API for anything except helping disabled users would be removed from the Play Store.
However, in a somewhat hypocritical move, Google seems to be holding apps in a double standard of sorts with regards to enforcing this purge. LastPass, a leading password manager, recently added support for Android 8.0 Oreo's Autofill API; which would fall under the remit of abuse of Accessibility Services. However, it looks like the app will be exempt from Google's accessibility app purge altogether. According to LastPass, Google is working with select partners to work on long-term solutions:
LastPass is working with Google and to confirm, there is no immediate impact to our Android users.
Our development team works very closely with Google to deliver an intuitive password experience for Android users. Google has assured app development partners, including LastPass, that they're focused on a long-term solution that meets user needs and their accessibility requirements.
Google has provided a better way to store and autofill passwords on Android with their recently released Android O, which LastPass supports. Users running Android O and LastPass (currently in beta) expands our ability to help users fill not just passwords, but other important information like credit cards and addresses, saving them both time and effort.
This reflects some inconsistency with regards to how Google is enforcing this policy and highlights an inherent inequality embedded within Google's treatment of app developers. Major apps like LastPass won't be removed from the Play Store, but hundreds of other utilities that rely on the Accessibility API in jeopardy, like Greenify and Tasker. We hope that Google becomes privy to this soon, and quits their hypocrisy in favor of a fairer model.
What do you guys think? Are you mad at Google's hypocrisy, or do you think this move was justified? Let us know in the comments, or post over in the forums with your thoughts.