Automatic clipboard syncing is broken in Android 13, yet Google is refusing to repair it.

In order to share your Android clipboard with your computer, you must hit a few additional buttons.

In addition to all the wonderful headline features, Android 13 also has some regressions. One of these has to do with how the clipboard works. Google may have gone too far, even while it’s fantastic to see that Android 13 is more private and automatically clears itself after an hour so none of your passwords or email addresses may be snooped upon. It is no longer possible to automatically share your clipboard with other devices using apps like Join, as noticed by Artem Russakovskii, the founder of Android Police, and Google will not fix it.

If you’re not aware with Join, it’s a service developed by Tasker developer Joo Dias that gives you very rudimentary access to sync your clipboard between your phone and desktop or browser. Once you’ve set everything up using simple ADB commands, this process is as frictionless as it gets on Android versions 12 and lower. On your desktop computer, you can access everything you copy to your clipboard on your phone. The mechanism is quite comparable to Apple’s Universal Clipboard, and users who rely on it report that it performs admirably.

Android 13 adds to the complexity. Even with the aforementioned ADB commands activated, Join is no longer able to easily access device logs as a result of a change in permissions. Instead, if the program wants to view the log, it must first send a prompt, which it can only do when it is the foreground app. This prevents it from being used as a passive synchronizing tool. Although it’s far more hacky than that, Mishaal Rahman has the whole explanation on Twitter. The issue is that Join simply leverages these device logs to check what you add and remove to your clipboard. Due to this change on Android 13, the app is now not entirely operational as planned, and you must manually add the contents of your phone’s clipboard to your computer using a multi-step process: Copy the disputed text, then share it with Join by clicking the share button on the clipboard preview that appears in the bottom left corner.

The problem also affects other automation apps like Tasker, which relies on reading the device log to gather context information to reliably trigger certain actions when certain events take place.

Although Google has confirmed that it would not bring back the previous capability, Join developer Dias has already begun work on further easing this manual sharing process. In a Google Issue Tracker entry, a Google employee states that “Disallowing background access is working-as-intended.” They went on to say, “We would strongly advise against any automation testing that relies on logcat. It is obvious that the firm wishes to do away with the feature when it states that “trying to connect with logcat without an interaction with the developer/users are not intended use cases.”

Since then, several developers have chimed in to elaborate on how this shift impacts developer workflows as well as automation apps like Join and Tasker. People bring up use cases like reporting bugs and crashes, and some services, like Scoop, are now severely constrained. Other developers make it quite obvious that the ability to read logs enables them to find flaws that only manifest themselves in specific situations, such as when their phone is sitting idle at night and isn’t linked to a computer that could be used for logging.

The first major reduction in clipboard access for apps other than keyboards was made in Android 10’s release. Because they could no longer access the clipboard while running in the background, clipboard managers like Clipper+ were eliminated in the process. Over time, other limitations similar to these have crept into Android. This device log access modification is just the most recent in a long line of changes, and it appears that we’ll have to adjust to less customization and automation as Google shifts to prioritize security above all else. It’s ironic that up until now, access to this log reading feature has only been available to people who are familiar with the Android Debug Bridge and go out of their way to enable it. As a result, it’s not like a malicious actor could simply install it on an unaware victim’s phone.

There is a fairly complex fix available for Android 13 users who still want to sync their clipboard. Shizuku, the preferred tool for rootless mods, can be used to get past the problems, as Mishaal Rahman noted on Twitter. Shizuku can be used to grant Join higher access and get past the new Android 13 restriction.

But Android 13 isn’t all bad news; there are lots of positive aspects as well. To find out about the major highlights, read our review of Android 13.