Dealing with malware is never easy, as those out to attack your device and clear your bank accounts are always on the hunt for new ways to get you. Knowing this, Google has laid out measures over the years to keep your devices safe, and what will be the latest addition to these measures is blocking the installation of applications that target outdated versions of the Android operating system.
There are already guidelines that developers have to meet for their applications to be uploaded to the Google Play Store, one of them being they must keep their applications updated to take advantage of the latest features and safety measures of the Android platform. The latest guideline, for instance, demands that for apps to be listed on the Google Play Store, they must target Android 12 and above.
However, developers could still create applications that target older versions of the Android OS, and then ask their users to sideload them manually. Furthermore, if an application had already been uploaded to the Play Store before a rule change, and the application has not been updated since, users who had already installed the app once could still get access to it despite the change in Play Store guidelines.
According to 9to5google, who have spotted a code change, this workaround will soon not be possible as Google is aiming to make Android 14 API requirements stricter and will entirely prevent the installation of outdated apps. Sideloading the apps will also not be possible, as Google will prevent third-party app stores from hosting them.
At the start, Android 14 will block those applications that specifically target very old versions of Android. However, the plan is to gradually raise this threshold until Marshmallow (Android 6.0) is hit. However, different OEMs will likely have different thresholds for outdated apps.
This change is aimed at reducing the spread of malware, as there are those developers that specifically target older versions of the Android OS because they lack certain safety measures that have been implemented in the newer versions.
However, if for any reason you need to install an outdated application maybe because you need to play a very old game that was abandoned, you will still be able to do it, but through the command shell using a new flag, which rules out a lot of normal users. By making the installation process difficult, it will be less likely that a user will be duped into installing a harmful application without fully understanding what he is doing.