Why it matters: When Apple stopped supporting 32-bit apps in 2017, many were lost for various reasons. Google’s upcoming requirements for Play Store apps might create a milder version of this situation, though with a reasonable explanation.
This fall, Google will begin hiding apps on the Play Store that don’t support recent Android API versions. The measure is meant to stop users from downloading apps that don’t meet the latest security standards.
Starting November 1, Android users won’t be able to see or download Play Store apps that don’t target an API version released within two years of the latest major Android OS. Android 13 is expected to have launched by then, so apps that don’t support Android 11 or later will get stashed. The cut-off date rolls forward as newer Android versions arrive.
This rule only applies to devices running an Android version newer than the one an app targets. Users with older devices that don’t support recent Android releases will still have access to older apps that developers have abandoned. Likewise, users with the latest OS can see and redownload outdated apps as long as they have previously installed them.
The new rule extends Google’s existing requirement that new apps and updates support Android versions within one year of the latest. Starting August 1, any new app must target Android 12, released last October.
Adding requirements like this will inevitably make some apps inaccessible. Google says most Play Store apps already meet the new conditions. It’s in the process of notifying developers, but it probably won’t reach them all. Some developers may have closed shop or no longer deem updating older apps cost-effective.