There are millions of Android apps in the Google Play Store, and most of them run just fine on newer phones and tablets, even if they were developed for older versions of Google’s mobile operating system. But if they haven’t been updated in a long time, they could potentially pose security threats or they might not comply with Google’s latest privacy or user experience requirements.

So Google has announced that starting in November, apps that aren’t designed to support fairly recent versions of Android “will not be available for discovery or installation for new users” with mobile devices running those versions of Android. In other words, you may have a hard time finding older apps in the Play Store if they haven’t been updated recently.

Google Play Store Nov 1, 2022 policy update

Google already requires new apps and updated apps submitted to the Play Store to target recent versions of Android, but the update that takes effect November 1, 2022 will also affect existing apps and games that are already in the Play Store.

Specifically, Google is saying that apps will need to “target an API level within two years of the latest major Android release version” in order to be show up in searches for users running those versions of Android.

When Google begins enforcing the n ew policy later this year, that will mean that apps will need to target Android 10 or later in order to be discoverable and installable on devices that are running Android 10, 11, 12, or 13. And that timeline will keep moving, so a year from now the same apps will likely have to target Android 11 or later.

It’s worth noting that Google specifies that the change will affect “new users,” which means that if you’ve already installed an Android app or game that was last updated a decade ago, you should still be able to re-install it from the Google Play Store if needed.

But new users looking for older apps in the future may have to resort to third-party app stores or to downloading APK files from the interent and sideloading them.

via Mishaal Rahman

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3 replies on “Finding old Android apps in the Play Store could get harder this year due to a security update”

  1. The APK Export app usually seems to work well for backing up and transferring apps to different devices (..usually).

    I’ve had this happen several times over the years, where an app I’ve paid for was eventually de-listed from the Play Store. Google support, as expected, is worthless in this department and can neither refund your money or provide a copy of the installer you paid for (often going so far as to erase any evidence of the app from your transaction history).

    Short of virus/malware, I honestly dgaf why they decide to remove an app, but without warning customers and providing an unlisted option to re-download the installer, it’s fundamentally theft on their part.

    Same goes for de-listed music, movies/TV, books and games from any digital storefront. It’s theft plain and simple, and such practices should be investigated by the FTC.

  2. I’ve had difficulties in finding old apps, that I purchased, since ages ago. I often have to resort to getting the apk from an older device and installing that.

  3. This will be a large problem for small companies that make hardware/software products. I have a low production volume EKG machine that uses my phone as a display and to send reports to my cardiologist. This small company does not have the resources to constantly update their software.

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