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Android 14 to tackle malware by blocking older apps

Android 14 is set to clamp down on the platform’s persistent malware issue by blocking certain older apps.

Developers have long been able to bypass Google’s Play Store guidelines by targeting their apps at older Android versions, then simply exhorting users to sideload the necessary APK. It’s also possible to re-download outdated apps that you’ve downloaded before.

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As 9to5Google point outs, Google is set to close off this security loophole in the forthcoming Android 14. The tech giant has posted a code change that means Android 14 will block the installation of outdated apps entirely.

At first this will relate to apps that target very old versions of Android, but the plan is to eventually bring that cut off point to Android 6.0 (Marshmallow). One caveat is that it will probably be up to individual Android phone manufacturers to enforce this security measure.

This Android 14 tweak should close off a current issue that sees malware makers targeting older and less secure versions of Android. Expect initial developer previews of Android 14 to start rolling out some time in March.

It’ll take a while before most Android users get to benefit from these security improvements, however. Last week it emerged that Android 13 had only made its way to 5.2% of all Android devices in the five months since its initial rollout.

Amazingly, this is considered good progress for Google’s mobile OS, which is famously slow to trickle out to phones thanks to its open and modifiable nature, as well as the sheer range of hardware specifications that can run it. That’s why Android 9.0 (Pie) is still running on a whopping 13.2% of Android devices.

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