Android 14 Could Block Sideloading of Outdated Apps

Android 14 will block the installation of certain outdated apps to help decrease the risk of malware, according to a recent code change discovered by 9to5Google. The upcoming Android version will completely stop the installation of apps that are designed for older versions of the operating system. Recently, Google released the Android 13 QPR2 Beta 2 update.

Android 14 devices to block apps that target especially old Android versions

Android 14 will block the installation of outdated apps by making API requirements stricter, according to a recent code change. This will prevent users from sideloading specific APK files and also block app stores from installing those apps.

Initially, the blocking will only apply to apps targeting very old Android versions, but the plan is to increase the threshold to Android 6.0 over time. However, it will be up to device manufacturers to decide the threshold or if they want to enable it at all. According to the report by 9to5Google, the code change mentions that:

If the minimum installable SDK version enforcement is enabled, block the install of apps using a lower target SDK version than required. This helps improve security and privacy as malware can target older SDK versions to avoid enforcement of new API behavior.

For a long time, Google Play Store guidelines have required Android developers to keep their apps updated with the latest features and safety measures of Android platform. Recently, the guidelines were updated, mandating that new apps listed in the Play Store must target Android 12 at a minimum.

These minimum API level requirements were only applied to apps intended for Google Play Store. Developers can still create apps for older versions and ask users to manually sideload the APK file. Also, if an app hasn’t been updated since the guidelines changed, the Play Store will continue to serve it to users who have already installed it.

As per a report by 9to5Google, Google plans to block outdated apps in order to prevent the spread of malware on Android. The developer behind this change stated that malware apps often target older versions of Android to circumvent protections that are only enforced on newer apps.

However, if someone needs to install an outdated app, it will still be possible through a command shell by using a new flag. This added step makes it less likely for someone to accidentally install malware.