Google Play Store to hide outdated apps from being downloaded

New Android updates bring improved security to users while adding functionalities to their handsets. To ensure Android developers keep their apps updated with the latest Android operating system releases, Google has sent out a warning to them explaining that their apps will be hidden from being downloaded by new users if they are not keeping up with the OS upgrades.

The specific wording from Google is that applications that do not target an Android API within two years of the latest major Android release version will no longer be able to be discovered or installed by new users whose devices run Android OS versions that are higher than the app’s target API level.

This new policy from the tech giant will prevent users who actively update their device’s Android OS versions or those who have newer phones from accessing or downloading older apps that have not been updated for a while.

Google believes that the policy should not be a huge obstacle to active developers who are targeting the Android ecosystem, as the tech giant already requires new apps and app updates to target an Android API level within one year of the latest major Android OS version release. Any app updates pushed by a developer that does not meet this requirement can not be published on Google Play.

Those who will feel the weight of the policy are those developers who have fully abandoned their apps for one reason or the other, or those developers who are still serving users but are no longer keeping up with the latest Android API updates.

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Google however explains that they will not hide the outdated apps from existing users even though they might be running a newer Android OS version that should prevent them from seeing the outdated app. Instead, existing users will still be able to discover the outdated apps, reinstall them and also use them as long as the apps support the Android versions that the users might be using.

This is definitely a more user-friendly way to go about this, rather than making an app that was part of someone’s daily life suddenly unavailable because the user has updated his Android OS version.

But still, the ultimate goal from Google is to remove outdated apps from Google Play as they offer a poor experience, and are also a potential security risk.

“Users with the latest devices or those who are fully caught up on Android updates expect to realize the full potential of all the privacy and security protections Android has to offer. Expanding our target level API requirements will protect users from installing older apps that may not have these protections in place,” Google’s statement on the new policy.

To ensure developers have sufficient time to make their apps compliant, Google has provided them with a means to request a six-month extension if they need more time through a form that will be available in the Play Console later this year.

Those who do not seek an extension to make their apps compliant will suffer the consequences first starting 1st November this year.

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at Twitter @KarisNaftaly