In the year 2019, Google will once again push forward API requirements for apps of all sorts, rendering old apps obsolete. If you use an app that’s updated fairly regularly, you’ve got nothing to worry about. However, if you’re using an app that’s not been updated since it was first downloaded, you might need to prepare for the inevitable.
Per Google’s release on the subject, “Existing apps that are not receiving updates are unaffected and can continue to be downloaded from the Play Store. Apps can still use any minSdkVersion, so there is no change to your ability to build apps for older Android versions.”
As such, even though apps may get “old” (our definition of old, as defined below), they’ll continue to work on phones with older versions of Android. If you, the user, continue to use the same version of Android for the rest of your life, and never update any of your apps, they’ll probably continue to work.
What happened today?
Google announced today that a new set of Google Play requirements were going to go into effect on two important dates later this year. One of these dates is on the 1st of August, 2019. The other is on the 1st of November, 2019. In order to “provide users with the best Android experience possible,” Google will continue to update their requirements for apps released on the Google Play app store.
On August 1st, 2019, all new Android apps headed to Google Play are required to target API level 28 (Android 9) or higher. On November 1st, 2019, UPDATES to EXISTING Android apps (also headed for Google Play) are required to target API level 28 or higher. UPDATE: This INCLUDES apps targeting older versions of Android.
What is an “old app?”
An “old app” is one that’s not been updated (or changed in any way) by its developer for an extended period of time. Believe it or not, sometimes developers abandon their work, allowing users to continue using said apps despite the possibility that they become broken. When an app becomes old, it stands larger chance of being infiltrated by malicious entities. Old apps can also cease to function with new versions of operating systems.
Will my favorite app get old?
It’s possible your favorite app will get old – but not likely. If you use an app on an old Android phone that you can’t find on the Google Play app store on a newer phone, there’s a possibility this app isn’t being kept up-to-date by its developer.
You probably don’t need to worry about this happening with your favorite app, as most popular apps are updated basically constantly. If you’ve got an app that doesn’t work anymore, it’s usually OK to attempt to contact the developer of said app to ask that they do the work to keep said app up to date, and up to code.
When will my favorite app be outdated?
Any app submitted to Google Play after August 1st of 2019 will be required to target API level 28. So you won’t need to worry about NEW apps getting OLD any time soon. All apps that are already on the Google Play app store now and wish to submit app UPDATES will be required to do so with API level 28 starting on November 1st, 2019.
• August 2019: All apps on Android will get warnings during installation if they do not target API level 26 or higher.
• November 2019: App updates to apps that already exist will start to receive warnings during installation for failure to target API level 26 or higher.
• 2020 onwards: The target API level requirement will advance annually.
So if it gets to December and you’ve not seen an update to your app between now and then, your app is officially “old.” Cross your fingers and hope for an update as soon as possible – or contact your app’s developer to make it happen!