The Google Play Store will soon prevent you from downloading outdated apps
Apple has repeatedly removed apps from the App Store that aren’t built for the latest iPhone models or newer versions of iOS, which is usually beneficial to the overall software experience, but has made the preservation of old apps and games much more difficult. Google has been hesitant to make the same moves with the Google Play Store, but that is changing soon.
Google announced in a blog post, “Beginning November 1, 2022, existing apps that do not target an API level within two years of the last major Android version will not be available for discovery or installation to new users with devices running Android OS versions higher than the app’s target API level. As new Android OS versions are released in the future, the requirements window will adjust accordingly.”
Android applications and games are built with two different Android versions in mind: the minimum API level and the ‘target’ API level. The former is the oldest version of Android an app is intended to work with, while the latter is the latest Android version the app is built for. Developers are supposed to keep the target API level close to the latest Android release, which allows an app to use the latest APIs and development features. However, newer API levels usually introduce more restrictions on permissions, which is why some apps stay on older API levels as long as possible. Snapchat is perhaps the most famous example here, which stuck to API level 22 (Android 5.1) for years to avoid the runtime permission model introduced in Android 6.0.
Google already requires new apps and updates to existing apps to target a recent Android release, which is currently set to Android 11 (API level 30) and will increase to Android 12 (API level 31) in August 2022. However, this requirement only applies to apps that are still in development – old and abandoned apps and games were left alone, as long as they still adhered to other Play Store guidelines.
This move is likely to improve privacy and security, as apps must keep up with Android’s evolving permissions and security changes if they want to remain available on the Play Store. However, it will result in many older apps becoming more difficult (or impossible) to access, especially after the initial purge on November 1st. Fortunately, it’s easier to back up and preserve old apps and games on Android than on iOS.
Source: Android developers