Android 14 Preview 1 released: blocks old apps by default

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 9, 2023
Google Android

Google announced the official release of the first Android 14 preview earlier today on the company's Android Developers Blog. The developer preview is available for a range of Google Pixel devices and the Android emulator.

android 14 logo

One of the main changes of Android 14 is a security feature that blocks the installation of older apps on devices that run the new version of Android. Google notes that Android malware targets older API levels often to bypass certain security and privacy protections introduced in newer versions of the mobile operating system.

API levels determine the capabilities and limitations of applications on Android. The level determines compatibility as well, as apps that target newer APIs are not compatible with Android devices that are older. Google Play discoverability is also linked to certain API levels. Apps that target older levels, currently older than API level 30, won't be discoverable "to all Google Play users whose devices run Android OS versions newer" than the application's target API level.

These API level restrictions applied to Google Play Store only, but not to other distribution platforms or means. With Android 14, attempts to install apps that target older Android API levels are blocked, including installations through sideloading.

Malware exploits old Android API levels

The company noticed that malware is often using a target SDK level of 22, which means that it is not "subjected to the runtime permission model introduced in 2015 by Android 6.0", which is API level 23.

Runtime permissions, introduced in Android 6.0, gives users more control over "dangerous permissions". Users are prompted to allow or decline permissions when an app launches or a certain feature is accessed, that requires a specific permission. Google improved runtime permissions in Android 10, when it increased transparency and added control of activity recognition runtime permissions.

As a consequence, Google decided to restrict the installation of apps that target API levels before 23 on Android 14 devices. These applications are blocked from installation on Android 14 devices.

Apps that are installed on devices remain installed when a device is upgraded to Android 14. Google Android users may want to make sure that all old apps are installed on the device before the upgrade to Android 14 is installed. Updates for these apps should also work in this case, but Google does not mention this explicitly in the blog post.

Developers may run an ADB command to test apps that target an older API level on Android 14 devices. The command adb install --bypass-low-target-sdk-block FILENAME.apk bypasses the restriction for the selected Android application.

Google Play Store guidelines and future restrictions

Google updated the Play Store guidelines last month. One of the main changes is that Google requires that new Android apps target at least Android 12. The restriction does not apply to existing apps that are updated by their developers.

9to5Google discovered a commit comment that suggests that Google has plans to increase the required API level progressively. The company has yet to confirm the plans. For now, Android 6.0 is the minimum when it comes to the installation of old apps on Android 14 devices.

Now You: do you run old Android apps on your devices?

Android 14 Preview 1 released: blocks old apps by default
Article Name
Android 14 Preview 1 released: blocks old apps by default
Android 14 Preview 1 is out, and with it comes a new restriction that prevents old Android apps from being installed.
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  1. Albert said on August 18, 2023 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks for the tip Martin.

    It is for these kinds of posts that I follow GHacks.

    1. Mike Williams said on August 26, 2023 at 8:55 pm

      What’s up with the generic comment, are you a bot?

  2. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:23 pm


    Where on the planet is that still in use? I was forced to give up using my RAZRV3 years ago because 2G was phased out by AT&T.

    1. arbuz said on August 20, 2023 at 5:02 pm

      Everywhere 3G has been turned off and you don’t have LTE coverage, and believe me there are many developed countries where this is the case and if it weren’t for 2G you wouldn’t even be able to make a phone call.

    2. Doc Fuddled said on August 31, 2023 at 5:55 pm

      Maybe I missed it, but I don’t believe tha term “2G” is in the article. Perhaps you are referring to “AGM G2”??

  3. Tachy said on August 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm


    Your website has gone insane.

    When I the post button I then saw my comment posted on a different article page. When I opened this article again, it is here.

    1. Martin P. said on August 31, 2023 at 4:39 pm

      @Tachy @Martin Brinkmann

      ” Your website has gone insane. ”

      Same here. Has happened several times.

      1. owl said on September 1, 2023 at 3:42 am

        @Martin P.,

        For over two weeks now,
        I’ve been seeing “Comments” posted by subscribers appearing in different, unrelated articles.
        For the time being,
        it would be better to specify the “article name and URL” at the beginning of the post.

  4. Anonymous said on August 18, 2023 at 11:17 pm

    @tachy a lot of non-phone devices with a sim in them rely on 2G, at least here in europe.
    Usually things reporting usage or errors/alarms on something remote that does not get day to day inspection in person. They are out there in vast numbers doing important work. Reliable, good range. The low datarate is no problem at all in those cases.
    3G is gone or on its last legs everywhere, but this stuff still has too much use to cancel.

    Anyhow, interesting that they would put that in. I can see the point if you suspect a hostile 2G environment (amateur eavesdroppers with laptop, ranging up to professional grade MITM fake towers while “strangely” not getting the stronger crypto voip 4G because it is being jammed, and back down to something as old ‘stingray’ devices fallen into the wrong hands).

    But does this also mean that they have handled and rolled out a fix for that nasty 4G ‘pwn by broadcast’ problem you reported earlier this year? I had 4G disabled due to that, on the off chance that some of the local criminals would buy some cheap chinese gear, download a working exploit and probe every phone in range all over town in the hope of getting into phones of the police.

  5. Andy Prough said on August 19, 2023 at 3:04 am

    >”While most may never be attacked in stingrays, it is still recommended to disable 2G cellular connections, especially since it does not have any downsides.”

    The downside would be losing connectivity. I spend a lot of time way out in the countryside where there’s often no service or almost none. My network allows 2G, and I need it sometimes. I have an option on the phone to disable 2G, I may do that when I’m in the city and I have good 5G connectivity, but not out in the country.

    I would imagine that the stingray exploits, like most of the bad things in this world, are probably things you will run into in the crowded big cities.

  6. owl said on August 21, 2023 at 3:40 am

    I stopped using it in a mobile (Wi-Fi line) environment, so I’m almost ignorant of the actual situation,
    But the recent reality in Japan makes me realize that “the infrastructure of the web is nothing more than a papier-mâché fiction”.

    It is already beyond the scope of what an individual can do.
    What we should be aware of is the reality that “governments and those in power want to control the world through the Web”, and efforts to counter (resist and prevent) such ambitions are necessary.

  7. Anonymous said on August 26, 2023 at 9:27 pm

    Why do you want people to disable the privacy features? Hmmmmm?

  8. Anonymous said on August 27, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Now You: do you plan to keep the Ads privacy features enabled?

    I’d like to tell you, but apparently if you make a post critical of Google, you get censored. * [Editor: removed, just try to bring your opinion across without attacking anyone]

  9. Tachy said on August 27, 2023 at 5:15 am


    You website is still psychotic. Comments attach to random stories.

  10. John G. said on August 28, 2023 at 2:46 pm

    @Martin please do fix the comments, it’s completely insane commenting here! :[

  11. ECJ said on August 28, 2023 at 5:37 pm


    The comments are seriously messed up on gHacks now. These comments are mixed with the article at the below URL.

    And comments on other articles are from as far back as 2010.

  12. Naimless said on August 29, 2023 at 12:57 am

    What does this article has anything to do with all the comments on this article? LOL I think this Websuite is ran by ChatGPT. every article is messed up. Some older comments from 2015 shown up in recant articles, LOL

  13. Paul Knight said on August 31, 2023 at 3:35 am

    The picture captioned “Clearing the Android Auto’s cache might resolve the issue” is from Apple Carplay ;)

  14. Anonymous said on August 31, 2023 at 9:57 pm

    How about other things that matter:
    Drop survival?
    Screen toughness?
    Degree of water and dust protection?

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