Android 14's Compatibility Shake-Up: What Apps Will be Affected?

Martin Brinkmann
Jan 30, 2023
Updated • Jan 31, 2023
Google Android

With Android 14, Google plans to introduce a policy change that prevents the running of certain older applications.

Android required API version

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.

Closing Words

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.

You won't be able to run certain older apps on Android 14
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You won't be able to run certain older apps on Android 14
With Android 14, Google plans to introduce a policy change that prevents the running of certain older applications.
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  1. pebbleguy said on June 28, 2023 at 11:16 pm

    Is there a way to bypass this? It means I can’t install the pebble app and my pebble watches are now unusable on Android 14.

  2. Horton Cold said on January 30, 2023 at 9:09 pm

    The lazy developer of Black Player EX just lost the rest of his hair with this announcement.. He still hasn’t managed to make his app work well even on Android 11 and conveniently doesn’t mention it anywhere, because that would make people not pay for his failing app. He is not alone in this.. I see this as a good thing, there are way too many shady, non-functional apps on the Play store and if this means many of them just die, it’s great. Google should actually just wipe the whole Play store clean and only let the excellent and well-proven apps to be distributed. That would still be way more apps than anyone on the planet needs. Right now it’s just a mess with million and millions of completely SH*T apps designed to make your life miserable.

  3. Benjamin said on January 30, 2023 at 8:39 pm

    …and so corporations do their very own thing for the advancement of the planets destruction… with a multitude of reasons one of them being security while the very same coporations steal personal data like there was no tomorrow… unhindered as of today but not uncritised, because liberal markets call for such “liberal” behaviour as the real thing. I for one like to use my older (about 3 years, Nokia Sirocco with a maximum of Android 10!!!) and only recently replaced the battery of this glued shut device. I wish we would be more intelligent and wiser.

  4. Cor Invictus said on January 30, 2023 at 6:08 pm

    Dumbphone is the new smartphone… if you catch my drift

  5. Milan said on January 30, 2023 at 5:49 pm

    In other words, for your safety we will spy on your some more and restrict you some more.

  6. 11r20 said on January 30, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    My wife got me a new phone for company use.

    The dang thing won’t shut up, so i turned off
    the data for now…I’ve ‘rooted’ several older Androids in the past, using ‘towel-root’ and
    ‘super-user’ and they still work great.

    I’m looking to “root” the Samsung-Android-12-Galaxy-Ao3s, and asking if anyone has experience with this phone…Thanks in advance

  7. plusminus_ said on January 30, 2023 at 3:28 pm

    Android peaked at Nougat lol

    11 is not bad. But I’ve seen nothing in subsequent versions to make me want to upgrade. Only further headaches…

    1. Rorygates said on January 30, 2023 at 11:43 pm

      Oreo had peaked. Now Google trying to copy Apple’s ugliness. Android’s appearance and design significantly declined after version 11. It suddenly looks very terrible. The UI is too rounded and oversized overall.

  8. ard said on January 30, 2023 at 1:39 pm

    Oops, for some time I am struggling with a few apps on my Android 5 phone. Which I guess can be expected with an older phone.
    But now Google is turning the system around. You buy a new phone with A14 and suddenly you cannot load a lot of apps, that are a little older but mostly very valuable!.
    A good reason to prevent updates if you have an A12 or A13 phone, or maybe delay a purchase of new phone till more apps have migrated to Android14.

    1. John G. said on January 30, 2023 at 3:27 pm

      Samsung A12 and A13 won’t receive Android 13 nor 14. The only possible OS update for these two phones is Android 12 (an amount of crap compared with the old Android 11).

  9. anona said on January 30, 2023 at 12:49 pm

    That would be all fine if users could update Android to the newest version. But somehow this depends on the device manufacturer who often only gives like 2 years worth of version updates. Samsung is the best one with I think 3 or 4 Android versions.

    Now what about the Google Pixel? Oh, just 3 versions as well? And the API cut-off is the ere-last Android version (v12 when v13 is current)? So that means a Google Pixel will be USELESS after 4 years. Unless of course you run the adb command or install another ROM that disables this check by default. (I wouldn’t could count on Graphene OS by the way as they put “security” above “freedom” when they have to make a decision… hence for example no rooting allowed on Graphene OS)

    By the way: iPhone fans often cited the long update period of ~7 years, to which the reply often was that at Android phones still get app support and app updates while iOS will be stuck with an old browser and after a year or so most of the apps in the App Store refuse to install on an old OS version. So now Android will have the same problem?

    1. Daffy Jones said on January 30, 2023 at 8:11 pm

      You are getting confused. Just because an app targets the latest API level doesn’t mean it won’t run on older Android versions. An app targeting Android 12 (API level 31) may run just fine on Android 6. It just means if it is running on a more modern Android level it will be able to take advantage of the more modern security and functionality features added in later API levels.

      You are thinking of min_API which restricts the oldest version of Android that an app will run on. Google isn’t making any demands that app developers use a certain min_API. They are only mandating that target_API is set to a more modern version

    2. John G. said on January 30, 2023 at 6:11 pm

      > By the way: iPhone fans often cited the long update period of ~7 years, (…)

      Iphone increase its phone’s life at the cost of performance, which is reduced each update until the point that the phone enters in some kind of obsolescence limbo. In other words, the phone will be laggy as hell till the point you will desire to throw it through the window.

  10. basingstoke said on January 30, 2023 at 12:12 pm

    Sounds like crap to me: “We’re removing your ability to do things you used to be able to do, because we can, f— you!”

    It’s software – if you’re adding things, whilst also taking things away, I don’t see that as innovation, I see that as compromise. What happened to users being able to do things that carried a risk? Personal responsibility? No?

  11. John G. said on January 30, 2023 at 12:11 pm

    I don’t know what’s happening with Android OS, each new version works worst than later ones.

    1. John G. said on January 30, 2023 at 12:14 pm

      I meant the older ones. For example Android 12 is worst than Android 11 so far.

      1. Yash said on January 30, 2023 at 6:54 pm

        Android version upgrades peaked when Oreo was released. Since then Android 10 has been the only OS upgrade worth upgrading. Android 12 is refurbished Android 11 with Material You and why Android 13 was released – only Google knows. A 2 or even 3 year Android OS upgrade would be the best move but it won’t happen for obvious reasons.

  12. PlannedObscolence said on January 30, 2023 at 12:01 pm

    Wow! This is gonna be bad for certain smart devices like cameras, airconditioners etc. IoT that are gonna be stuck on certain app/android version to run that are EoL by their Manufacturers.

    Looks like Google is copying Apple planned obscolence for unsupported devices to force them to buy a new one even if they are still running good with good maintenance or careful usage to make them last long & requires Apps to control or make them fully functional.

    1. VioletMoon said on January 30, 2023 at 4:09 pm

      “Planned obsolescence” supports a healthy business model, “since it enables the generation of long-term sales volume by reducing the time between repeat purchases.”

      MS and Windows 11 makes a good case for tech giants supporting tech giants: Create an OS that isn’t fully functional for older hardware; in turn, an artificial, albeit genuine, need, is generated that results in increased sales of PCs, smartphones, etc.

      Yes, “unsupported devices . . . even if they are still running well” are considered useless and are discarded in the massive heap of tech garbage that provides a salvage yard for those in 3rd World Countries where it is dumped.

      Nothing new–appliances, yard care items, air conditioners/heaters, automobiles, etc. It’s all part of the New Deal–create a need and they will buy.

  13. Someone said on January 30, 2023 at 10:24 am

    Iam using an Galaxy J3 from 2016 smartphone, with android 5.1. Never had security issues. Most of the apps I need works great..
    The thing that you have to change a phone like every 2 years, is terrific.

    1. Akina said on January 31, 2023 at 8:02 pm

      There shouldn’t be any problem if you use it only for calls and SMS, otherwise even using a web browser PITA on an old low-end device like that.

    2. John G. said on January 30, 2023 at 3:22 pm

      I still have an old phone with Android 7 and it was great, no single problem ever. Newest versions are worst than the older ones.

      1. John G. said on January 30, 2023 at 3:23 pm

        I use the old phone as a GPS! :]

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