Apps that have not been updated in two years will be hidden from the Play Store.
Outdated Apps Have No Place on the Play Store
Google Play is starting a war against outdated apps. For a while now, the Play Store has a rolling minimum level for Android version support. That is, developers must use a target API level that is one year old or newer. Otherwise, they can’t update their apps.
But Google has doubled its efforts in clamping down on outdated apps. Recently, it announce that if an app’s target API level is older than two years, it will be concealed from the Play Store. In that case, users can’t see forsaken apps anymore on Play Store.
“We currently require new apps and app updates to target an Android API level within one year of the latest major Android OS version release. New apps and app updates that don’t meet this requirement cannot be published on Google Play.”Google Blog
Backward Compatibility Setting
Target API level system is a backward-compatibility setting. Each time an app has a new version, it is identified by a new API level. The level goes up by one each time there’s a new release.
The Android version has new features and restrictions that app developers must follow. To prevent old apps from breaking, the API level system allows developers to target the version of the new features and restrictions.
The target API level has nothing to do with the minimum version of Android that an app can run on. It’s just a way of coding the app to be compatible with the new Android features and restrictions. With the target API level, the app could run normally on older versions.
This system used to be voluntary until Google enforced restrictions. Many developers target a low API level because their apps don’t need new features. Rather, they simply want to run as few limits or restrictions as possible.
Unfortunately, the malware also targets low API levels. Because of that, Google released new target API rules in 2018. They ensure that new restrictions would apply to potentially malicious apps in the Play Store.
The new rules will start on November 1, 2022. When that time comes, Android 13 would be the latest version. The Play Store won’t accept app updates that don’t target at least Android 12. But the apps would appear normally on the Play Store.
Furthermore, the latest rules will conceal apps that don’t target at least API level 30. To remove the restrictions and follow the new rules, developers can update their apps to ensure they support the latest version.
However, if developers failed to update their apps, they won’t be visible on the Play Store.
“The rationale behind this is simple. 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 Blog