Android 14's Compatibility Shake-Up: What Apps Will be Affected?
With Android 14, Google plans to introduce a policy change that prevents the running of certain older applications.
Android 14 is the next major release of the operating system. If things go as planned, Android 14 will become available later this year. New devices may be sold with it installed already, and older devices may be upgraded to the new version.
Google announced a new requirement for application developers that restricts the APIs that applications may target. The updated guidelines require that applications that are added to the Google Play store target Android 12 as the minimum version.
Google notes on the Meet Google Play's target API level requirement website: "New apps must target Android 12 (API level 31) or higher; except for Wear OS apps, which must target Android 11 (API level 30) or higher".
Developers could target older API levels in the past if they did not want to publish their applications to the Google Play Store. Third-party store and direct distribution did not have the same restrictions as Google Play's Store.
A new code change to the Android 14 code, discovered by 9to5Google, suggests that Google is enforcing API level restrictions on the device level. Android 14 devices would block the installation of apps that target certain older API levels, regardless of the installation source.
The initial target for the blocking is Android 6.0, but Google seems to plan to increase the blocking gradually over time to newer API levels.
Old Android versions are less secure
Google cites security as the primary reason for the change. Newer Android API versions offer better protection against malware. Until now, attackers could exploit security issues in older Android versions to infect devices.
Android users won't be able to install apps on Android 14 anymore that target a blocked API level. The device-wide block prevents the installation of the application on the device.
Google does not plan to integrate an option in the user interface to bypass the blocking. While there is a way to disable the blocking, it requires connecting the device to a computer and running a command from the command prompt. Most users won't know about this method and won't be able to unblock the functionality on their devices.
Android users may check the target Android version of applications on Google Play and most other stores. To do that, they need to open the application on the store and select "about this app" on Google Play.
The App info section on the page that opens lists the required OS.
Android 13 is the latest official version of Android. It is on less than 6% of all Android devices at the time of writing, but many manufacturers have not rolled out the upgrade to all their devices. A good portion of Android devices won't receive the Android 13 upgrade and the same will be true for this year's Android 14 release.Advertisement