Google Play Is Getting Ready To Kick Crusty Old Android Apps To The Curb
Can’t find the Android app all of your friends have been recommending? Its absence is likely intentional. Google Play will soon get rid of apps that do not incorporate the latest privacy and security features.
According to Android for Developers, “existing apps that don’t target an API level within two years of the latest major Android release version will not be available for discovery or installation for new users with devices running Android OS versions higher than apps’ target API level.” Both new apps and app updates must meet the target API in order to be published. Those who have previously installed the app will still be able to find and download it, but existing apps that do not meet the target API will not be able to reach new users.
The site further notes,, “API Level is an integer value that uniquely identifies the framework API revision offered by a version of the Android platform.” Apps tend to have two API levels-- minimum API level and target API level. The minimum API level is the oldest version of Android the app can be run on while the target API level is the latest version.
Developers ideally should frequently update their apps so that they meet the current target API level as “each Android OS update brings privacy, security, and user experience improvements.” However, older apps often slip through the cracks as long as they do not push out updates and otherwise continue to follow Google Play’s policies. Google Play was previously only particular about new apps meeting the target API within one year of a major Android OS version release. This now changes with the new policy update.
The timeline for these updates are as follows:
- August 1, 2022: New Android apps must target Android 12 (API level 31).
- November 1, 2022: Android App updates must target Android 12 (API level 31). Existing apps must target Android 11 (API level 30).
- November 1, 2023: Existing Android apps must target Android 12 (API level 31).
Images courtesy of Android for Developers.