Google Play Store to Hide and Block Downloads of Outdated Apps

The Google Play Store will soon start hiding outdated Android apps that may not have the latest privacy and security features.

According to a new blog post, the change is part of Google Play’s latest policy updates, which soon change target API level requirements for existing Android apps on the Store.

This rule will come into effect starting November 1, when Android 13 is likely to be commercially available, so app developers will have to ensure their apps are compatible with Android 11 or newer by that point. Any apps lagging behind the deadline will disappear from the public eye until the developer makes the necessary changes.

“The rationale behind this is simple. Users with the latest devices or those who are fully caught up on Android updates expect to realize the full potential of all the privacy and security protections Android has to offer,” explained Krish Vitaldevara, Director of Product Management at Google. “Expanding our target level API requirements will protect users from installing older apps that may not have these protections in place.”

Google is effectively forcing developers into compliance by hiding apps that haven’t been updated for a while. Dormant apps are usually vulnerable to cyberattacks, so this is undoubtedly a step in the right direction. Users who want to download older apps can “discover, re-install, and use the app,” according to Google.

Google offered a technical guide to help developers migrate their apps and is also offering a six-month extension to those who need more time.

The company has also issued a revised Families policy that will remove apps from the Play Store in some nations if they are deemed not to be appropriate for child users.

Additionally, amid the myriad of updates, the company made updates to its Hate Speech policy to prohibit caste and immigration-related hate speech, and also expanded the scope of what can be considered news.

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