Google is about to take action to limit outdated apps on the Play Store. From November 1st, all apps currently in the store must upgrade to the new API, the app’s API must be no older than 2 years from the latest major Android release. If not, Google says it will hide those apps and block installation on the Play Store.
This means that Android users who have updated to the latest software or who buy Android phones with the new operating system won’t be able to find or download old, outdated apps.
Actually, this change won’t have a big impact on any app developers still actively working on the Android platform, as Google has previously required apps to get the appropriate Android API upgrade within a few days. One year from the release of the latest major Android operating system version, any app updates that do not meet this requirement cannot be approved for release on Google Play.
However, the change will affect completely abandoned apps, or long-released apps that are still supported by the developer, but aren’t updated to the latest versions of the Android API.
Android apps and games are built with two different versions of Android: the minimum API level (minimum) and the ‘target’ API level. Mininum is the oldest Android version the app can run on, while target is the latest Android version the app is targeting. Developers must keep the API target level close to the most recent Android release, which allows the app to use the APIs with the latest functionality.
However, newer API levels also often introduce more restrictions on app permissions, which is why some apps want to stay in old API levels for as long as possible. Take Snapchat for example, which has extended API level 22 (Android 5.1) for many years to avoid the access restrictions introduced in Android 6.0.
Google’s goal is to get rid of outdated apps that not only provide a poor experience, but also pose a security risk. According to experts’ predictions, the Google Play Store is likely to lose many apps in the coming months.
Reference: The Verge