Sometimes — and for reasons that don’t involve future blackmail plans — you need to record your phone calls. Maybe you’re interviewing someone over the phone and want to refer to the call later, or you’re talking with a shady company that will deny the details of your call without proof. Whatever the case, Android users were previously able to turn to call recording apps to get the job done. Unfortunately, Google has decided to kill off your favourite third-party options, making this process a lot more difficult.
Google confirmed in a developer webinar on Wednesday, April 20, that the company will essentially stop third-party apps from being able to record phone calls on Android by revoking permissions to Accessibility API. This news was highlighted by Reddit user NLL-APPS, who went on to explain this isn’t the first time Google has moved against allowing call recording on Android.
During the Android 6 era, the company blocked access to real call recording. Then, in Android 10, the company stopped apps from being able to record calls using the device’s microphone. Following that move, call recording apps began using Android’s Accessibility API to make recording phone conversations possible. Even without direct access to your phone calls or your Android’s microphone, using this method apps can produce a recording of your calls that can be used however you see fit. Or could — once Google blocks access to Accessibility API on Android, this workaround will no longer work at all.
The changes will take effect on May 11, meaning you can still use third-party options until then. If you want to plan ahead for May 11 and beyond, let’s take a look at ways to record calls on your Android without the use of third-party apps.
How to record calls on Android without a third-party app
First, check if your phone’s default call app has a call recording feature. Google allows first-party pre-loaded dialler apps to record calls, and that won’t change come May 11. These apps have access to the audio source of the phone call (called VOICE_CALL) that all other apps do not. You’ll find access to VOICE_CALL on Androids like Google Pixel devices as well as Xiaomi phones: If you have one of these, or another Android phone with this capability, you’re on your way.
The second thing you should do, if you have a Pixel, is check if you live in one of the countries that support the feature. Unfortunately, Google blocks call recording for Pixels in the U.S.
If your phone’s dialler app doesn’t have this feature, or you live in a country where the feature isn’t available, you’ll need to get a bit crafty. The simplest solution is to place your calls on speakerphone, then set up another device to record from there. It’s a bit obvious and not nearly as convenient, but you will end up with a recording on your call.
The more complex option, if you must have call recording directly on your phone, is to root your Android. Rooting allows you to access systems you normally could not, which means you can allow apps like call recorders to bypass the restrictions Google normally implements. This process is involved, and likely overkill for most users. Some apps won’t even work if they detect root. However, it’s worth mentioning, since, for now, it may be the only possible way to record phone calls directly on your Android. To get started, NLL-APPS recommends “Call Recorder” by skvalex.