Android 13's clipboard security protection trips up some apps

Google won't change its clipboard protections despite complaints from some Android app developers.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer
Android 13
Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

With Android 13 now out, some users have found that Google's new clipboard security and privacy protection doesn't play nicely with apps that allowed users to share their Android clipboard data with their desktops. 

Android 13 introduced a clipboard protection that alerts users when an app access the clipboard, and automatically clears the clipboard after about an hour. It's meant to prevent apps from snooping on recently copied data. Apple deployed a similar clipboard control on iOS 14

While Android 13's feature is intended at preventing unwanted access to the clipboard, Android Police found that Android users can't automatically share a clipboard with another desktop or browser using Android apps like Join and Tasker, which were created by developer João Dias. 

But, for those with iPhones and Macs, Apple has the Universal Clipboard, which allows users to share clipboard data across iOS and MacOS devices, so long as they're signed in with the same Apple ID. 

In Android 12, advanced users could use developer tools to achieve something similar to Universal Clipboard, but Android 13 doesn't permit it. 

As Android Police explains, Join relied on background access to device logs to enable automatic and passive syncing of clipboard data between devices. With Android 13, the user needs to copy the text and then manually share it to the Join app, which eliminates the convenience of the service. 

(In Android 13, after copying text, the OS displays a small square at the bottom of the screen containing the copied text, which can also be edited, as well as a share icon.)     

Google has confirmed in its Android issue tracker that it will not change Android 13's clipboard behaviour, explaining that "Disallowing background access is working-as-intended."  

Dias discussed the issues Android 13's clipboard controls were having on Join and Tasker in a Reddit post this week. In previous Android versions, Tasker was able to access 'Logcat', a central location in Android where the OS and apps place their logs.    

"But now, Google decided that whenever an app needs access to the logcat, a system popup shows up requesting a 'one-time' access permission like this: https://i.imgur.com/yObhtw9.png," writes Dias.

"This means that whenever Tasker is stopped (a reboot or another system event) or when the logcat reading process is restarted (this is needed for several technical reasons) this popup will show up. If you don't accept it, the event will not work."

But Google has discouraged any automation relying on Logcat.  

"We would discourage any type of automation testing relying on logcat. Trying to communicate with logcat without an interaction with the developer/users are not intended use case," Google says in at the issue tracker. 

Editorial standards