Google is getting ready to purge its Play Store of out-of-date applications. As a result, the company warned Android app developers that starting on November 1, 2022, the company will hide apps and prevent them from being installed on users’ devices if they have not kept up with the latest Android operating system releases. Further, Google stated that apps that do not target an Android API within two years of the most recent major Android release version will no longer be discoverable or installed by new users whose devices are running Android OS versions that are higher than the apps’ target API level, according to the company.
The bottom line is that Android users who are up to date on their software or recently purchased new Android phones will no longer be able to locate or download old, out-of-date applications.
Because Google already requires that new Android apps and app updates target an Android API level within one year of releasing the most recent major Android operating system version, this should not be a significant change for any active developers working on the platform. Additionally, any app updates submitted that do not meet this requirement will also be rejected from published on Google Play.
The fact that the apps haven’t been completely removed from Google Play means that this won’t be a direct equivalent to Apple’s massive App Store purges of years past, in which the company removed tens of thousands of outdated and abandoned apps. As a result, existing users of the older apps impacted by the new policy will still be able to discover them, re-install them, and use them on any Android operating system that the app supports, according to Google. This is perhaps more consumer-friendly than simply removing apps from the app store, as Apple had previously done in this case.
On the other hand, Google’s goal was similar to Apple’s in that outdated apps provide not only a poor user experience but also pose a potential security risk.
As Google explained in its announcement about the new policy, every update to the Android operating system brings “improvements in privacy, security, and user experience.”