Google has been tweaking its API policy to enforce better privacy. Once the new restrictions are imposed, app makers are expected to make changes accordingly. A recent change for SMS and Phone permissions has apparently forbidden apps from offering Gmail related functionalities. The list includes popular Android apps like SMS Backup+, Nine, Kiwi for Gmail and Swiftkey.
Google has enforced certain changes as part of Project Strobe. As part of the project, Google realized that users game explicit permissions to the app based on certain use cases. Taking this behavior into considerations, Google decided that “only apps directly enhancing email functionality—such as email clients, email backup services and productivity services (e.g., CRM and mail merge services)—will be authorized to access this data.”
The new categories created by Google were restrictive in nature and inadvertently sidetracked valid use cases. For instance, most of us use SMS Backup+ to backup our call logs, contacts and stores them as a thread on Gmail. Swiftkey uses your writing on Gmail to suggest extensive keyboard customization. Sadly, the above-mentioned cases fall outside are not defined by Google’s new ‘Permitted Application Types.’
Google sent out a message to the users of the affected app. It read as follows, “if these apps are unable to meet the deadline to comply with our updated data policy requirements, they’ll lose access to your Account starting July 15th, 2019.” Apparently, Google is not entertaining appeal for exemption and this means only one thing, the affected apps will have to shut down Gmail related features. Jan Berkel replied to concerns from his users,
Hello everyone. I’m sorry about this situation, SMS Backup+ will no longer have access to Gmail, mainly because it’s not an email reading app. I applied for an exception but it was declined, as expected. Vanilla IMAP might work, but for how long I wonder. And it’s very tricky to set up for a casual user. Unfortunately, the Android platform is getting more and more closed. I’m not sure what to do at this point, either remove the app from the store or release a new version which removes the automatic account setup, since that is broken / will be broken soon.
While some apps have found a workaround, the others are left in a lurch. We hope Google understands the need to step in and modify the restrictions to address legit cases of exemptions.