For several years now, we’ve been witnessing the Google Play Store Guidelines remain updated so that all developers keep apps updated too. The whole idea is to use the latest features and best safety protocols on this particular platform.
In January, the Google Play Store updated its guidelines so that all newly enlisted apps across the Play Store would only be able to target Android 12, at a bare minimum.
Up until this point in time, the minimal API level rules have been restricted to the likes of Google’s Play Store. In case one developer wants to make an app that’s for the older version of Android, they may choose to do so by simply asking users to sideload APK files through manual means.
In case one Android app wasn’t updated as per the routine protocol of changed guidelines, then this Play Store would continue to serve that particular application for those that installed it in the past.
As per code changes that were recently published, Android 14 is all geared up to make this API regulation much stricter. This means completely blocking out the installation of such outdated applications. This means such a change would prevent users from loading particular APK files while blocking app stores from downloading similar apps.
At the start, the Android 14 device would only be seen blocking out applications that particularly target older Android versions. With time, they do hope to enhance the threshold so it reaches Android 6.0. Remember, Google does have an in-built mechanism to ramp that up further. But at the end of the day, it’s totally the device’s producer what threshold would be suitable for older apps or if it would be enabled at all.
If the minimal downloaded SDK version for enforcement gets rolled out, the app installation can be blocked by making use of SDK versions that are lower targets than that needed. This would ensure better privacy and security features. As experts rightly point out, malware has the tendency to target older versions of SDK which prevents enforcement of such API behavior.
By blocking these older applications, Google hopes to prevent the spread of malware platforms seen on Android. Moreover, developers responsible for such changes claim that some apps are only designed to target older Android versions so they can be bypassed. Even security restrictions in place are overcome as they’re mostly linked to new applications. Hence this way, older apps aren’t really looked at much.
But if you do wish to install an older app, you can still do that through a common shell via the likes of a new flag. This would certainly need a few extra steps and it’s highly unlikely that a person would do this by accident and end up installing malware without knowing.
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