Android 13 introduces new sideload restrictions, but they are useful

Android 13 introduces new sideload restrictions, but they are useful

Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2021 for Windows: Lifetime License. The package includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, Teams, OneNote, Publisher, and Access, all for just $50. According to Mishaal Rahman, Senior Technical Editor at Esper, Google won’t allow sideloaded apps to use the Accessibility API starting with Android 13. Many Play Store and third-party apps use the Accessibility API to provide useful features. For Instance, TalkBack, the Google screenreader included on Android devices, uses the Accessibility API to read the contents on the screen on behalf of those who have vision problems.

Apps that do not come from an app store will not be able to receive accessibility permissions from users. With Android 13, Google is imposing new restrictions on sideloaded apps. These apps will not be able to receive accessibility permissions from users. The goal is to prevent apps from less legitimate sources from abusing the API and defrauding users. Sideloaded apps will face new restrictions in Android 13. No, Android phones will continue to support sideloading. Google simply wants to make sideloading apps safer so that bad actors cannot exploit them and inject malware into your devices.

Highlights

  • Android 13’s restrictions are a bit different, though. They don’t target apps downloaded or sideloaded from a legitimate source such as the Google Play Store or F-Droid. They only affect user-acquired APK files from sources that arent trustworthy. That’s because an app can disguise itself as a well-intentioned service and use the Accessibility API to steal confidential user data.

  • However, the API can also be misused since it gives an app full control of your device. If you’ve ever installed an app that uses the Accessibility API, you would have noticed a prompt warning you that the app will be granted the ability to “view and control the screen” and “view and perform actions” on your behalf. Because of the powerful nature of the Accessibility API, Google has been cracking down on its use for many years now. The most recent example is when the company changed its Play Store policies to restrict all call recording apps from accessing the API. In this case, Google said that the “Accessibility API is not designed and cannot be requested for remote call audio recording.” Developers have till May 11 to comply with Google’s policy.

Google told Esper that Android 13 might block users from granting accessibility permissions to a sideloaded app. When the restriction is applied, the service will be grayed out, and tapping it will bring up a prompt saying, “for your security, this setting is currently unavailable.” The system will determine whether an app has come from an app store or another source during installation.