Google to require apps to target recent Android versions, 64-bit

Security is one of the thorniest subjects in the Android community. For one, it's blamed on the fragmentation that makes it difficult to roll out security updates in a timely manner. For another, it is also blamed on the somewhat lax security of the platform itself. Of course, Google takes Android security seriously, trying to balance the platform's openness with the need to put in more checks. Starting next year, Google will put its foot down to improve Android security, but it's not really going to be as bad as that sounds.

The gist of Google's new policy is this: new and updated Android apps must target the current or most recent version of Android starting August next year. Starting 2019, apps should also support 64-bit devices in addition to 32-bit. That is, if they still want to support 32-bit hardware at all.

This is more than just a ploy to force Android apps to always stay updated with the latest Android releases, though that isn't exactly a bad thing. Each Android release improves on the security of its predecessors and apps that don't take advantage of those leave their apps and their users vulnerable. That is, if the developers themselves don't have ulterior motives.

App developers are still free to support older Android versions by setting the minimum SDK version, or ignore 64-bit. They will, however, soon find themselves evicted from Google Play Store. Old apps that aren't going to be updated don't need to do a thing, but that's a different issue altogether.

This move, however, has more repercussions for OEMs than app developers themselves. It could effectively put a curb on manufacturers with low end devices that, for one reason or another, slap on an ancient version of Android. With Android Go already available, they might no longer have any reason to stick to older versions for their hardware-constrained devices. Unless, of course, they were specifically banking on older Android vulnerabilities and functionality to do their own magic.

SOURCE: Google