Google is continuing to combat its Android fragmentation problem. This time around, Google is focussing on developers and ensuring that they support the latest versions of Android. Back in December, Google announced that Play Store apps would need to support versions of Android no more than one year old going forward. Now this week, it looks like future versions of Android could block apps from running that don’t support newer versions of the OS.
We are used to Apple requiring app developers to support its latest devices and operating systems. In the past, Apple has removed 32-bit apps from its iOS App Store, and more recently, it began requiring that developers support the iPhone X and its notch. It doesn’t sound like Google will be removing older, unsupported apps from the Play Store, instead, they will be blocked from running on newer devices if they don’t support newer APIs. This will kick off with Android P, which has a new code that determines the minimum API level that can be used on a device.
As Android Police points out, for the current Android P Developer Preview, the minimum API level for apps is set to v17, which is Android 4.2. Apps targeting lower API levels will fail to install and run on this version of the OS.
Android P is still in development, so things can change over the coming months. It is speculated that Google may end up just warning users that they are installing an older app, rather than blocking it from running entirely. So far though, Google hasn’t publicly outlined its plan for this minimum target API feature.
KitGuru Says: As Android evolves, it is important that developers support the newer standards put into place. However, given that many buy Android for the freedom it offers, blocking apps from running entirely does seem like a step in a very different direction.