2018 will see a big change take place within the Google Play Store. Google has announced a minimum API level that new and updated apps will need to meet if their creators want it to have a home in the store. The change will mean that developers will need to include support for new Android features and restrictions as they are released.
So far developers have been able to avoid tailoring their apps to meet the new features that come with each iteration of Android by opting out and using an old API level. However Google is seemingly trying to impose standards on developers by forcing them to adopt more recent API levels. Previously Google had allowed developers to use older APIs in an effort to address backwards compatibility issues. However, by forcing applications to use the latest features they will become more current across the Google Play Store much quicker.
While updating to a more recent API represents a better user experience it means more work for the developer and this is one of the reasons that developers have been reluctant to upgrade. So Google is delivering the following ultimatum: "Update to a newer API or never update your app again."
Of course the delay in switching to later API levels isn’t just down to developers avoiding updates. Facebook’s app, for example, is still at API level 23 which is two years old. Meanwhile Snapchat targets API level 22. Using these older API levels means that these companies can avoid the restrictions on background processing that Google has put in effect in later iterations. Older APIs mean apps can run constantly in the background.
From August this year developers will need to adopt API levels that are a year old for new and/or updated apps. API level 26 (Android 8.0) will be required for new apps and in September this will be necessary for all updates.
Google’s Android Product Manager, Edward Cunningham, went on in his press release to say this: "Future Android versions will also restrict apps that don't target a recent API level and adversely impact performance or security." You can read the full release here.
Android is undoubtedly here to stay and EDC4IT has a great course that can bring you or your team up to speed to develop updated apps that will meet Google’s new regulations. Just take a look here!