Android 13 has landed, and along with all the pleasant headlining features, there are also some throwbacks. One of them relates to how the clipboard works. While it’s great to see that it’s more private on Android 13, and automatically clears itself after an hour so none of your passwords or email addresses can be spied on, Google may have gone a step too far. As discovered by Android Police founder Artem Russakovskiiit’s no longer possible to automatically share your clipboard with other devices using apps like Join, and Google won’t fix it.
If you’re not familiar with Join, it’s a service created by Tasker developer João Dias that allows you to sync your clipboard across your phone and desktop or browser in a very hacky way. On Android 12 and below, this process is as seamless as can be once you’ve set everything up with a few ADB commands. If you add something to your clipboard on your phone, you can access it on your desktop computer. The system is very similar to Apple’s Universal Clipboard and seems to work pretty well for those who rely on it.
Android 13 complicates things. Due to a permissions change, Join can no longer easily access device logs, even with the relevant ADB commands enabled. Instead, the app would have to send a prompt every time it wanted to read the log and only when the app itself is in the foreground. It cannot be used as a passive synchronization tool in this way. The problem is that Join essentially uses these device logs to see what you’re adding and removing to your clipboard (it’s a lot hackier than that though – Mishaal Rahman has the full explanation over on twitter). At the moment, due to this change on Android 13, the app does not work fully as intended, and you have to rely on a multi-step process to manually add the contents of your phone’s clipboard to your computer: copy the text in question, click on the share button on the clipboard preview that appears in the lower left corner and share it with Join.
The issue also affects other automation apps like Tasker, which rely on reading the device log to gather contextual information to reliably trigger certain actions when certain events take place.
Join Developer Dias has already started to further streamline this manual sharing process, but unfortunately Google has confirmed that it won’t be bringing back the old functionality. In a Google Issue Tracker entry, a Google employee states that “denying background access works as intended”. They expanded that further: “We would advise against any type of automation testing that relies on Logcat. Attempting to communicate with Logcat without interacting with the developer/user is not an intended use case”, making it clear that the company wants to get rid of the functionality.
Other developers have since joined the discussion, explaining how this change impacts not only automation apps like Join and Tasker, but developer workflows as well. People are citing use cases like reporting bugs and crashes, with some services like Scoop effectively crippled now. Other developers make it clear that the log reading capabilities allow them to detect errors that only occur in specific contexts, e.g. B. when their phone is idle at night and not connected to a computer that could be used for logging.
Android 10 was the first version to severely restrict clipboard access for apps other than keyboards. Clipboard managers like Clipper+ were terminated because they could no longer access the clipboard in the background. More limitations like these have crept into Android over the years. This tweak to device log access is just the latest in a long line, and it looks like we’ll have to get used to less customization and automation as Google moves to prioritize security above everything else. Funnily enough, this log reading feature was previously only accessible to those who are familiar with the Android Debug Bridge and make every effort to enable it. So it’s not like a malicious actor could just install them on an unwitting victim’s phone.
For those who want to keep syncing their clipboard on Android 13, a somewhat complicated solution is available. As Mishaal Rahman shared this on Twitter, you can bypass the problems with Shizuku, the tool of choice for rootless mods. You can use Shizuku to grant elevated participation privileges and bypass the new restriction on Android 13.
Android 13 isn’t all bad news, though – there are plenty of things to like. Read our Android 13 review to learn more about the key highlights.
UPDATE: 8/17/2022 12:09 PM EST BY MANUEL VONAU
Added new workaround at the end of the article