Android 14’s tight security to block you from downloading outdated apps

Last updated: January 24th, 2023 at 11:07 UTC+01:00

With every passing year, Google enhances the security of Android to safeguard users’ privacy and data. Well, it seems like Android 14 will bring a great security feature that will stop you from downloading outdated apps on your phone. Apparently, Android 14 will block the installation of apps meant for outdated Android versions.

For years, Android app developers have had to ensure that their apps are updated to use the latest features and align with the Android OS security measures. Recently, Google updated its guidelines to ensure that the newly listed Play Store apps target Android 12. However, this security measure of requiring Android 12 at a minimum is applied only to items in the Google Play Store.

A developer could easily ask their users to manually sideload an old app version. Furthermore, for those who have already installed them, the Play Store will continue to list apps that haven’t been updated in a long time.

Smartphone brands can decide whether or not to enable this feature

That is about to change because, as per the recent code changes, there will be stricter API requirements on Android 14, which will entirely block the installation of outdated apps. This change would restrict users from sideloading specific outdated APK files. On top of this, the stricter API will also prevent users from installing the same apps from outside app stores.

As noted by 9To5Google, initially, Android 14 will only block apps that are intended for older Android versions. However, with passing time, the threshold will increase to Android 6 (Marshmallow), which will progressively ramp up thanks to Google’s mechanism. But note that it would be up to the device manufacturers to decide the threshold for outdated apps or whether to enable the

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Android 14 to block outdated apps to help reduce malware attack : The Tribune India

IANS

San Francisco, January 24

Android 14 will start blocking the installation of apps that target outdated versions of Android to help reduce the potential for malware.

According to a newly posted code change, Android 14 is set to make API requirements stricter, entirely blocking the installation of outdated apps, reports 9to5Google.

This modification would prevent users from sideloading specific APK files and would also prevent app stores from installing those same apps.

Initially, Android 14 devices will only block apps that specifically target older Android versions.

However, Google intends to gradually raise the threshold to Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), with a mechanism in place to “progressively ramp it up”, according to the report.

Although, it will probably still be up to device makers to determine the threshold for outdated apps or whether to enable them at all.

The tech giant intends to reduce the spread of malware apps on Android by blocking these outdated apps, said the report.

The report further mentioned that the developer who made the change notes that some malware apps have purposefully targeted older versions of Android in order to circumvent certain protections that are only enforced on newer apps.

Meanwhile, Google said that the upcoming Android 14 will “support our partners in enabling all of this” after SpaceX and T-Mobile unveiled plans to deliver direct satellite connectivity to smartphones.

On Twitter, Hiroshi Lockheimer, Senior Vice President of Platforms and Ecosystems at Google, described how it “was a stretch to get 3G + Wifi working” on the first shipping Android phone (HTC Dream/T-Mobile G1) in 2008″.

 

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Android 14 could block the installation of old apps

The next version of Android looks set to start blocking the installation of apps built for older versions of Android.

9to5Google spotted changes to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that detail the incoming changes, which should go live in Android 14. It’s worth noting that at the time of writing, I wasn’t able to access the AOSP link because don’t have “enough privileges,” according to a pop-up when I tried to access the change. However, before we get into the details, there are a few things to understand.

First, developers can target their apps to Android versions, which have different API levels — application programming interfaces enable new features, security capabilities, and more. Targeting newer versions of Android is important for ensuring compatibility with new features and support for the latest security improvements. Still, developers can target older versions of Android because very few smartphones run the latest version of the OS.

Google has used Play Store guidelines to push developers to keep apps up-to-date and target new versions of the OS. For example, Google updated those guidelines earlier this month to require newly listed Play Store apps to target Android 12 or newer.

However, these guidelines only apply to apps available through the Google Play Store. That loophole is beneficial for developers who want to target older versions of Android, but it also opens a potential security vulnerability for people sideloading apps — for example, malware in a sideloaded app could target an older version of Android with less security. The AOSP change spotted by 9to5 seeks to fix that.

The Android 14 change would make API requirements more strict and block the installation of outdated apps, which would impact both the Play Store and sideloading apps from other sources. To start, Android 14 will block apps targeting

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Android 14 can block users from sideloading very old apps

The next version of Android could bar you from installing ancient apps in some circumstances. 9to5Google has spotted a code change indicating that Android 14 will block users from sideloading apps (that is, installing them outside of the Play Store) that don’t target a minimum version of the operating system. It will stop the installation of particularly old software at first, but Google expects to “progressively” raise the bar to require at least Android 6.0 Marshmallow.

The move is meant to boost security and privacy. Malware writers can’t just target old versions of Android to escape security measures in newer releases, Google says. Google already requires that apps in the Play Store target at least Android 12. This update denies attempts to install vintage apps through the web or third-party stores.

This won’t completely thwart you if there’s a classic app you’re determined to run. It’s up to device manufacturers to enable the cutoff, and there will still be a way to install apps through a command shell. The new policy is meant to stop people from unwittingly installing malware. If you sideload an old app on an Android 14 phone with this measure switched on, you likely know exactly what you’re doing.

Still, it’s notable that Google is limiting sideloading at all. For some, it’s a reason to buy an Android phone instead of an iPhone — you’re free to install apps that aren’t available in the official store. However, it’s not surprising that Google is clamping down. Android malware writers frequently (though not always) rely on sideloading precisely because there are fewer restrictions than in the Play Store. A block on old apps won’t put an end to malware, but it could tighten the platform’s overall security.

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Sony’s new tech could block sideloading piracy apps on Android TV

Android TV Sony 8K

Adamya Sharma / Android Authority

TL;DR

  • Sony has filed a patent for an anti-piracy monitoring app on media players and TVs.
  • The app would block or degrade the performance of sideloaded apps that allow pirated content.
  • This would likely be for Android TV as Sony uses this platform for its smart TVs.

Sony is no stranger to fighting piracy, be it on the PlayStation side of things or in the music and video landscapes. However, the company’s latest anti-piracy measure could target Android TV.

The Japanese giant filed a new patent application to block piracy apps on smart TVs and streaming devices, Torrent Freak reported. Of course, Sony uses the Android TV platform for its smart TVs, suggesting that this anti-piracy measure could indeed come to Google’s platform in a limited fashion.

So how does this anti-piracy feature work?

The company describes the use of a system-level “monitor” application that would form part of the operating system. This application contains a block list of known pirated network resources (e.g. URLs and IP addresses) and would then identify third-party apps accessing said resources. From here, the monitor app would block the third-party app from running, throttle it to provide a degraded experience, or pause the content at irregular intervals to frustrate viewers.

This is just a patent right now, so there’s no guarantee this anti-piracy feature will actually land on commercial Sony devices. Nevertheless, it still raises plenty of questions. For one, you have to wonder whether this monitor app could hog system resources, resulting in a chugging experience on Android TV. There is a precedent for this too, as it’s not uncommon to see choppier performance in PC games with anti-piracy measures.

Would you buy a TV with an anti-piracy monitoring app?

3687 votes

Torrent Freak also points to the

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