Google is taking another step to clean up the Play Store. It's hiding apps that haven't been updated within two years of the latest Android OS release and preventing users from downloading them.
This builds off Google's existing Play Store requirement that app developers release updates to match the API of the latest Android OS release within a year of that release. So, with Android 12 released last October, developers have until October 2022 to bring their apps up to speed -- and now Google's new requirements mean that if they wait longer than October 2023, their apps won't be discoverable in the Play Store and can't be downloaded by users running newer Android versions.
Users who'd previously downloaded old apps will be able to install them, but the new requirements will help protect unaware users from potential vulnerabilities in older apps, according to an official Google blog post. The new policy won't go into effect until Nov. 1, 2022, giving developers time to get updates in order.
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The new requirement is one of several policy updates Google announced Thursday that'll go live at later dates in 2022. For instance, starting May 11, apps with content that's not "globally appropriate" will be blocked for users in regions where the content is deemed offensive. Other updates include a change to the Play Store's hate speech policy to ban caste- and immigration-related hate speech.
To further protect users, Google recently removed apps from the Play Store that were secretly collecting users' data. The variety of apps, including a QR-code reader and highway-speed-trap detector, all contained malicious code that stole user data from millions of Android devices, and the apps were removed for violating Play Store rules.