While Apple regularly clears its store of apps not supporting the latest iPhone models or hardware architectures, Google has only recently started to lay out similar requirements for Android apps. In December, the company announced that Play Store apps would have to target an API level no more than 1 year older than the current codename release. In other words, after Android P comes out, all apps submitted to the Play Store would have to target for Android 8.0 Oreo or above.
Google already stated that future versions of Android would outright block apps that don’t target a recent API level, but there weren’t any specifics. Starting with Android P, there is a new MIN_SUPPORTED_TARGET_SDK_INT class, which states the minimum supported API level that can be used on the device. For Android P, the minimum API level is v17, which corresponds to Android 4.2.
So what does all this mean? Every new version of Android introduces changes to how apps are allowed to operate, like how Android 6.0 Marshmallow added runtime permissions and Android 7.0 Nougat added Doze. Some apps (Snapchat is one example) get around these limitations by targeting an older version of Android, so the requirements don’t apply. As you install older and older apps, you could experience issues with performance and security, because the apps are less restricted.
The first Android P Developer Preview shows a warning when old apps are opened, as seen in the video above. It’s not clear if old apps will be blocked entirely in the final Android P release, or if Google will just stick with the warning for now. We’ve reached out to the company for clarification, and we will update this post when they respond.