Google is reportedly working on a new change set to go live with Android 14 that will prevent users from installing outdated apps on their devices. The company already enforces minimum API level requirements for apps on the Play Store, preventing developers from publishing apps that target older Android releases. However, this restriction doesn’t prevent users from sideloading outdated apps.
Google aims to remedy that with Android 14, and a newly posted code change (via 9to5Google) suggests that the company will enforce stricter API requirements with the upcoming release. Once the change goes into effect, users will no longer be able to sideload APK files for apps that don’t meet a specified API level. It will also prevent third-party app stores from installing apps that don’t meet the new guidelines.
At first, Android 14 will reportedly block apps that target especially old Android releases. However, Google plans to increase the threshold to Android 6.0 Marshmallow over time and implement a mechanism to “progressively ramp [it] up” further. 9to5Google notes that the company will likely give OEMs the option to enable or disable the feature and set a threshold for outdated apps for their devices.
This move aims to curb the spread of malware, as “malware can target older SDK versions to avoid enforcement of new API behavior,” notes the developer responsible for the change. Users will still have the option to install outdated apps on their devices through a command shell using a new flag, but the process won’t be as simple as sideloading an APK. By making the process more complicated, Google will make it less likely for users to install a malware-laden app on their devices unintentionally.
We expect to learn more about this change in