Google is preparing to clean up the Google Play Store, hiding applications deemed obsolete. A measure taken in the name of safety.
Google has decided to do its big spring cleaning. On the Google Play Store, the Californian firm will soon hide obsolete applications; reducing the number of apps visible to users. The decision is indeed to remove the oldest applications, or almost, as the firm explains in a blog post. “As of November 1, 2022, existing apps whose target API level is not within two years of the last major Android release will not be discoverable or installable by new users of devices running Android. Android versions higher than the apps’ target API level. As new versions of Android OS are released, the requirement window will be adapted accordingly”says Google.
From 1 November, to provide more security
Concretely, Google is preparing to limit the availability of obsolete applications. This change of course will apply from 1er November and aims to ensure that apps available on the Play Store support Google’s latest privacy and security requirements. “Users with the latest devices or those who follow Android updates closely expect to have all the security and privacy protections that Android offers”says Krish Vitaldevara, director of Google product management. “Expanding our target-level API requirements will protect users from installing older apps that may not have these protections”. Note that the measure is not exceptional and is also used by Apple for its Apple Store.
Indeed, applications developed for older versions of Android can pose security problems. Some are even abandoned and have not been updated for a long time. Behind Google’s speech also hides another reality, mentioned in particular by XDA-Developers. Newer API levels usually contain some restrictions on permissions; which is not to the liking of all developers. Thus, Facebook or Snapchat avoid updating this element and remain on old API levels. The little ghost is an emblematic example since Snapchat still uses API 22, in reference to Android 5.1. The choice saves the social network from adapting to the new permissions model introduced by Google with Android 6.0.
Don’t panic, your apps won’t disappear
While Google’s decision is important, it’s worth noting that it won’t change the way you use Android. Indeed, the Californian firm will take into account the age of the device and the version of Android that it embeds. Thus, a user under an old version of the OS will still be able to download applications designed for an old version of Android. In addition, Google confirms that it will still be possible to redownload and install all applications previously downloaded from the Play Store. “The good news is that the vast majority of apps on Google Play already meet these standards”, says Google. The company also plans to grant delays to developers who are not ready on 1er next November.
As a reminder, each major Google update brings a new level of API. API level 30 refers to Android 11 while recent versions like Android 12 and Android 12.1(L) carry API level 31 and 32 respectively.