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Google plans effective cull of outdated Android apps

Google is planning to implement a system that will hide any Android apps that haven’t been updated in a while.

In a post over on the official Android Developers blog, director of product management Krish Vitaldevara outlined a policy update that clamps down on dormant applications on the Google Play Store.

As things stand, new apps and app updates submitted to Google are required to target an Android API level within one year of the latest major Android OS version release if they’re to be published. Now Google is going further.

From November, any existing apps that don’t target an API level within two years of the latest major Android release version “will not be available for discovery or installation for new users with devices running Android OS versions higher than apps’ target API level”.

In other words, any Android apps that have been left to wither on the Google Play Store vine will be hidden from view, effectively cutting them off from new Android users.

Naturally, that two year cut off point will shift as new versions of Android hit the market. It’s worth noting that the November 1 commencement date will likely coincide with the Android 13 launch, which would make Android 11 the minimum target for developers.

Google’s reasoning for this lies on its ongoing mission to improve privacy and security on Android. “Expanding our target level API requirements will protect users from installing older apps that may not have these protections in place,” reads a tellingly emboldened line of the blog post.

Vitaldevara claims that the vast majority of Android apps already meet these criteria, so this would hardly seem to be the 32-bit Appocalypse that saw swathes of older apps banished from the iOS App Store in 2015. Still, it’s a wake up call for developers of older Android apps.

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