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Android 14 could block app sideloading to some extent

Apps targeting older Android versions will be completely blocked.

Published onJanuary 24, 2023

Android statue At Google HQ
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority
  • Android 14 is set to implement stricter restrictions on apps targeting older versions of the OS.
  • Users will no longer be able to download these apps through the Play Store or sideload them from elsewhere.

Android 13 has reached over 5% of all devices in less than six months, and with that rollout successfully underway, it’s time to look forward to Android 14. Developer previews for the new Android version should land around March, and we’re already seeing a few details of the software trickle out thanks to code sleuths. One of these changes will affect app downloads across the board on Android 14.

According to code changes spotted by 9to5Google, Android 14 will fully begin blocking apps that target older Android versions.

Google consistently asks app developers to update their apps in accordance with the latest Android versions. The current Play Store guidelines require new apps to target at least Android 12. However, these requirements are only restricted to apps on the Google Play Store. You can still sideload apps that target older versions of Android. Even the Play Store will let you download an older app that doesn’t comply with the minimum OS requirements if you installed it once before.

All this will change with Android 14 as Google aims to reduce the potential spread of malware. The new code is set to make API requirements stricter, completely blocking outdated apps on the Google Play Store. It will even block the ability to sideload such apps.

To begin with, Android 14 will block apps that target particularly older versions of Android. Google will increase the threshold to Android Marshmallow with time, and you can expect the company to keep ramping it up.

The developer behind the change notes that some apps intentionally target older Android versions to bypass certain security protections applied to newer apps. The stricter restrictions will ensure such apps don’t compromise the security of Android devices.