The use of accessibility features by sideloaded apps will be prohibited in Android 13

After the completion of the first beta, Android 13 will soon make its official debut. This week, one of Google’s upcoming security updates was made public: Android 13 will no longer allow sideloaded apps to include accessibility capabilities.

Android 13 has a precaution in place to prevent sideloaded apps from utilizing the platform’s Accessibility API, as noticed by Esper this week. Apps sideloaded in Android 13 will display a notice stating that accessibility settings are not accessible for the particular app, as shown in the illustration below.

Why is Google changing its policy? The purpose of doing this is made very obvious in Android 13 for your security.

When utilized properly, Android’s Accessibility API may be a potent tool for expanding an app’s capabilities. Its main purpose is to enable developers to create applications that people with different disabilities can use, but there are many use cases that can benefit everyone. Google has been tough on applications that attempt to access these APIs because the API is frequently used maliciously by apps. Google claimed that it considerably decreased the use of those APIs that was unneeded, hazardous, or prohibited with Android 12. In Android 13, sideloaded apps are further prohibited from using accessibility APIs.

Importantly, not all sideloaded apps will be impacted by this. APK files are the only ones affected by this change, not apps downloaded from third-party app stores, according to Google, which cited F-Droid as an illustration. Evidently, the objective is to limit access to apps that are downloaded from less reliable sources. Additionally, the owner of the phone can confirm their identity and grant access to these newly limited settings by using a hidden setting in the app details page, as seen above.

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