Android 14 will start to block app installations that target outdated versions of Android to reduce the risks for malware.
The old guidelines for the Google Play Store have ensured that developers keep apps updated. They use the latest features and safety measures of the Android platform.
This month, Google updated the guidelines. It now requires newly listed Play Store apps to only target Android 12 and above.
The minimum API level requirements have only applied to apps for the Google Play Store. If a developer wants to create an app for older Android versions, they ask their users to sideload the APK file manually.
If an Android app did not get updated after the guidelines changed, the Play Store will still serve the app to those who installed it before.
The newly posted code change says Android 14 is set to have stricter API requirements. It will block the installation of outdated apps. The change will block users from sideloading APK files and block app stores from installing the outdated apps.
Android 14 devices will only block apps that target old Android versions. In time, the plan is to increase the threshold to Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). Google will have a mechanism to “progressively ramp [it] up.” Device maker will ultimately decide the threshold for outdated apps or if it must be enabled at all.
If the minimum installable SDK version enforcement is enabled, block the install of apps using a lower target SDK version than required. This helps improve security and privacy as malware can target older SDK versions to avoid enforcement of new API behavior.
By blocking outdated apps, Google curbs the spread of malware apps on Android. The developer responsible for the change notes that some malware apps have intentionally targeted older versions of Android to bypass certain protections only enforced on newer apps.