For the next version of Android, Google could integrate a safeguard preventing the installation of dated Android applications. Apps from the Play Store as well as APKs downloaded from outside that do not meet Google’s specifications can no longer be installed.
The next version of Android could give a hard time to users accustomed to installing applications outside the Google Play Store. Google would indeed be working on a solution for Android 14 to block the installation of applications considered obsolete on their smartphone. An additional turn of the screw to strengthen the security of Android devices, even though the guidelines in place on the Google Play Store are already relatively strict.
Developers who wish to publish their application in the Google kiosk already have an obligation to keep their applications up to date so that they can fully exploit the latest security measures put in place by the Californian company. The latest update to these guidelines, which dates from the beginning of the month, obliges them to develop their application by targeting at least the Android 12 SDK.
However, these specifications imposed by Google only applied until now to the only applications offered in its store. Developers who did not wish to follow these guidelines could, for their part, decide to develop an application without following Google’s recommendations. They can decide to develop a version of their application intended for an older version of Android and offer it for download without going through the Play Store. All they have to do is provide an installation file in APK format, on their website for example. A practice known as sideloading, little appreciated by Google because of the risks it represents for security. But the practice allows developers not to let down the owners of older Android smartphones who wish to continue using their still functional terminal. But Android 14 could mark the beginning of the end of this practice.
A code change that makes APIs more restrictive
With the next version of its mobile operating system, Google will tighten the screw a little more in terms of security. The teams in charge of the development of Android 14 would indeed be working on a solution aimed at completely blocking the installation of applications considered by the OS to be obsolete.
A change which, if validated, would not only prevent the installation of applications from specific APKs, or from third-party application stores, if the latter do not meet Google’s level of requirement. However, the Mountain View company would transition to blocking outdated apps in a phased manner. The firm could thus begin by prohibiting applications developed at least for Android 6.0, and would gradually increase the minimum version of Android required.
9to5Google, who reports the information, however, indicates that manufacturers will have a hand in deciding whether or not to activate this security measure, as well as its level of restriction. The establishment of such a mechanism is likely to cause cringe, but Google does it for obvious security reasons. By preventing the installation of applications targeting an API level that is too old, Google hopes to curb the spread of malware on its platform. Hackers using rogue apps have become accustomed to targeting older versions of Android to circumvent the security measures in place on the most recent versions of the OS.