In rare cases, the upcoming Android release can prevent you from installing outdated apps. 9to5 Android 14 will prevent users from sideloading apps—that is, downloading them outside of the Play Store—that don’t target a minimum version of the operating system, according to a code modification that Google has discovered. At initially, it will prevent the installation of particularly outdated software, but Google anticipates “gradually” raising the requirement to at least Android 6.0 Marshmallow.
The action is intended to increase privacy and security. According to Google, malware authors cannot simply target outdated Android versions to get around security features in more recent releases. Google already mandates that Play Store applications support Android 12 or higher. This update prevents efforts to download old apps from the web or other stores.
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If you’re determined to run a traditional app, this won’t fully stop you. The cutoff can be enabled by device manufacturers, and command shell installation of apps will still be possible. The new rule is designed to prevent anyone from unintentionally installing malware. You probably know exactly what you’re doing if you sideload an outdated programme onto an Android 14 phone with this security feature enabled.
However, the fact that Google is restricting sideloading at all is noteworthy. You can instal programmes that aren’t offered in the official store, which is a benefit for some people who choose to purchase an Android phone over an iPhone. The fact that Google is cracking down, though, is not unexpected. Because there are less restrictions than in the Play Store, sideloading is regularly used by Android malware authors (but not always). Malware won’t stop because of a ban on outdated apps, but it might make the platform’s security more stringent overall.