Google has unveiled new policies for the Play Store that will effectively bar any existing Android Apps that are significantly out of date. All apps in the Store must target an API level within two years of the latest major Android release, or they won't be available for discovery or installation, it announced on its Android Developer blog. The aim is to "protect users from installing older apps that may not have these protections in place," the company said. The changes will go into effect on November 1st, 2022.
Currently, Google requires new apps and app updates to target an Android API level within just one year of the latest Android OS version release. The new changes, by contrast, target existing apps that may not have been updated in a while. Google notes that if you're running an older device, you'll "continue to be able to discover, re-install, and use the app on any device running any Android OS version that the app supports."
Google said the "vast majority" of apps already follow the incoming standard. While that may be true, the Play Store has around 2.87 million apps in total, so there are a no doubt a huge number that need attention. For those that don't conform, it's notifying developers and giving them any resources needed to update.
Play has seen a lot of new security measures over the last few years. The most significant came in 2017 when Google launched Play Protect designed to scan for rogue apps with help from machine learning. However, some still get through that pose security risks and violate user privacy. The new policy may help stop a good chunk of those, but as we all know by now, it will never catch them all.