Google is adding a new requirement for application developers on the Play Store, and should they not comply by updating their app to work with the most recent version of Android, they could be at risk of being completely hidden from all users, and by extension, unable to have their app downloaded at all.
According to the Android Developers Blog, this decision to make apps non-discoverable is being done in an effort to protect unaware users from installing apps that haven’t been maintained in years or that could have been created and released as a source of malicious intent and then subsequently abandoned.
Starting on November 1, 2022, existing apps that don’t target an API level within two years of the latest major Android release version will not be available for discovery or installation for new users with devices running Android OS versions higher than apps’ target API level. As new Android OS versions launch in the future, the requirement window will adjust accordingly.Android Developers Blog
Luckily, most apps on the Play Store already abide by Google’s requirement, and most aren’t out to steal user data, but this idea of hiding old or out of date apps should have been a thing years ago, if you ask me. It’s brilliant, and I’m glad they’re implementing it now instead of later. By the way, if you’ve already installed older apps that will now be hidden for other users, you’ll still see them appear, and can re-install them at any time. In essence, you’re grandfathered into viewing them while others not be able to.
The company has a technical guide for devs who are looking to migrate their app so they meet the Play Store’s target API level requirement, and there’s a help center article for this as well. Additionally, if you are a developer and you can’t meet the deadline, you can actually request an extra six months of wiggle room to migrate your app comfortably. A form will be available in your Developer Play Console later this year, so stay tuned if you fit in this category.