Google is getting set for the commencement of a crackdown on items in the Google play store in a bid to limit outdated apps. This announcement was made by Google product management director Krish Vitaldevara via a blog post, starting November 1st, all existing apps in the store are expected to target an API level within two years of the latest major Android OS release. Failure to comply, Google says limits would be on such apps making it difficult for users to discover or install them.
The major aim of the crackdown is to ensure that majority of developers whose products are available on the Play Store to make use of Android’s latest privacy and security features. Vitaldevara says that device owners are “expected to realize the full potential of all the privacy and security protections Android has to offer.” The blog post further says “Expanding our target level API requirements will protect users from installing older apps that may not have these protections in place.”
However, before the commencement of the new policy Google is implementing, there are a number of important requirements to take note of. Firstly, restrictions only apply when a device is running a version of Android more recent than the app’s API level. What this simply means is that users who have chosen to stick with an older version of Android OS will have access to download apps, of course with their (old) version of Android in mind. Secondly, Google says users will have the ability to re-download and install apps they’ve previously been downloaded from the Store.
As a sign that Google cares the company says Developers can go ahead to apply for a six-month extension of their software won’t be ready for the November 1st deadline. A similar policy is already in place by Google for new and updated apps that are submitted to the Play Store for review. Apps that want to be published in the Play store are expected to target a particular API level within one year of the last major Android OS release. What the new policy offers now is to expand coverage to existing, or possibly abandoned apps on the Play Store, rather than just those still receiving updates.
In the past, big names have continued to practice targeting old Android APIs in an apparent attempt to escape newer and more restrictive privacy and security policies. In 2017, reports by Ars Technica revealed that at that time the Facebook app practised targeting an API that is two years old, while Snapchat was targeted an API almost three years out of date.