A new software report suggests that Google’s next version of Android will feature the ability to record phone calls. The still unnamed version of Android details a few phrases in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that indicate the possible new software component. The native Android 9.0 build would offer the ability to record audio calls, and would do so with a sort of “read receipt.” In order to notify both parties that the conversation is being taped, the system would present an audible beep every fifteen seconds for both parties to hear. This tone will warn unsuspecting callers or recipients that their calls are being digitally taped to indicate the integrity of the conversation. It is unclear at this time where stored audio files will be kept, whether it be cloud storage to Google servers or locally to Android devices. Also unclear is the extent of the capabilities of the OS to document calls such as cellular, WiFi, VoLTE, and ViLTE, and if the system posed a recording time limit.
The concept of recording an audio call on a mobile device is not new. For example, the 2006 LG Chocolate cell phone came equipped with a native hardware button for recording audio calls and even music played through the device speakers. The user would merely press and hold the button and the Chocolate would instantly (and quietly) begin recording a conversation that would ultimately be saved as an audio file to the phone’s internal storage. Google’s consideration of adding this feature to all Android 9.0 smartphones could dismay some users and elate others. Certainly users could find an appropriate time to benefit from listening to an audio call again, especially for legal reasons with individuals and entities.
Just as similarly, others may be less inclined to conduct phone conversations, especially when the call could instantly and permanently be stored on a server and publicly disseminated. The latter circumstance motivates users to be more cautious and more hesitant in audible device communication, but the concept is not very different from saving emails, text messages, and other electronic communications from a sender. The still unofficial Android 9.0 will indubitably present new features intended to benefit users. More options for controlling content, clearing phone storage, and optimizing Android for its massive user base are also expected. What the new mobile OS update will offer regarding privacy and data collection remains to be seen.