back to article Google makes outdated apps less accessible on Play Store

Outdated apps will no longer be accessible on Androids that are either new or updated to the latest software starting November 1, thanks to a Google policy that was announced Wednesday. Google will hide apps and block installation to users running Android OS versions higher than the apps' target API level, or within two years …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Is this going to improve the various Telecom provider's incentive to update their customers' equipment ?

    Because you're not using Android on your phone, you're using your provider's version of Android on your phone.

    So, if this means that your provider is going to improve on getting Android updates out to its customers, I'm all for it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Google's own hardware gets Android updates much more frequently and quickly than 3rd party phones (I really notice the difference between my Google Pixel and Samsung Galaxy).

      Perhaps the need for an up-to-date version of Android might be seen as an added incentive to buy Google hardware rather than other manufacturers'?

  2. b0llchit Silver badge
    Facepalm

    ...to protect users from installing apps that may not have the latest privacy and security features...

    That is a ever so cynical and hollow statement. Google already slurps all your data and doesn't inform the user. Therefore, google is probably doing this to prevent others from competing in the data slurp.

    sigh

  3. Oh Homer

    Necessary abandonware

    Unfortunately a solid 50% of everything on my Android phone is probably abandonware at this point, despite my best efforts to find acceptable replacements over the years.

    That includes the launcher itself (in my case the original, now abandoned version of Apex, before the new owners destroyed it).

    I guess this is the inevitable consequence of making software development too accessible, by dumbing it down to the level that opportunistic kiddies dump their one-hit-wonders into the app store, before losing interest and running away.

    So what will smartphone users do once the only apps they actually want to use have been essentially blocked by Google?

    Go back to using PCs, I guess.

    1. Joe Drunk
      Windows

      Re: Necessary abandonware

      I have a lot of abandonware on my Android phone as well. One of my essentials is Extreme Call Blocker which, unlike other call blockers which send unwanted calls to voice mail, will pick up and hang up unwanted calls silently. I had backed up all those to my sd card so when I upgraded I installed all of them without Play Store. I don't upgrade any app unless I'm forced to (I.E., stops working like Shazam) so I rarely ever open Play Store.

      The analogy of using PCs doesn't really apply since I have plenty of Abandonware on my PCs that can no longer be found anywhere on the web. If you like your software keep backups of them.

      1. Oh Homer

        Re: Necessary abandonware

        "I have plenty of Abandonware on my PCs that can no longer be found"

        The difference is that you can still run that abandonware on your fully updated PC, potentially decades after it was abandoned, even if that requires using the likes of dosbox or similar.

        And you don't have to contend with Microsoft arbitrarily hitting a killswitch that deliberately disables software just because it's "too old".

        Sure, there are compatibility issues, but that's not quite the same thing as being deliberately blocked. And unlike Android, you can easily work around those compatibility issues.

        So where is the Android compatibility layer that will keep all my abandonware running in perpetuity, like on Windows?

        This is especially ironic given that Android is a Java-like virtual machine, where you're supposed to be able to "write once, run anywhere" forever.

        Well, I guess not.

    2. Withdrawn

      Re: Necessary abandonware

      Here I am anxiously awaiting the ability to use a Linux phone as my daily driver.

    3. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Necessary abandonware

      "have been essentially blocked by Google?"

      This.

      I hate upgrading anything as newer versions of things often have more blatant adverts and less functionality (that being moved to the "premium" version).

      Especially galling is the recent trend of having plenty of full screen video adverts that blast out at full volume, and include a timeout so you can't skip something you're not even remotely interested in. Some devs are so greedy, an advert will play after damn near every interaction with the app.

      If it works, leave it the hell alone.

    4. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Necessary abandonware

      The library could be bigger but there is F-Droid App Store.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Did I dream the 'remove permissions for apps not used for 3/6 months'?

    A couple of weeks ago I found a notification for Google that they were going to automatically remove permissions for apps not used for the pervious 3 or 6 months. I went through the list, most of which had been used in the past week, and removed the option from them all.

    The option to manage this now seems to have vanished... I checked PlayStore and App Permissions... nothing

    1. JDPower666 Bronze badge

      I had the same notification a few days ago, so it's still a thing. Just checked and the settings, at least for me, are in the "Play protect" section (click the cog in the corner from there)

    2. iron Silver badge

      Everything in that list is an app I use and I don't want fucked with by big G. I might have used it in the last week, I might not have used it in 3 months but that doesn't mean I want to have a mystery problem next time I run an app because Play stupidly removed its permissions and now it doesn't work.

      I can't find a global toggle to turn off that shite and had to do it individually for 90+ apps using an awful, very slow UI that seems designed to torture the user into submission.

      Yet another Android 'feature' that makes me wish there was a viable alternative to iOS. Google's current dev team adds such features regularly.

      1. Kanhef

        Next time you open an app it will ask for permissions again, same as the first time it was installed. Even if it revokes permissions for an app you're using, it's not hard to grant them again. I don't see the problem.

  5. Bartholomew Bronze badge
    Holmes

    call me cynical

    I'm going to guess that an alphabet/google/android executive had their bonus conditional on developing a metric for "better/higher developer engagement", and this is the result.

  6. pip25
    WTF?

    What's the point?

    If these old apps worked fine on older Android versions, why would they pose any additional risk on newer ones, as long as the API calls remain compatible?

    1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: What's the point?

      What about when the APIs are removed? And there are then things like cryptography libraries.

      I'm not necessarily keen on Google's role as gatekeeper, but as long as sideloading is possible the damage is limited.

    2. iron Silver badge

      Re: What's the point?

      Because newer versions of Android restrict access to privacy and security sensitive API calls. Like Accessibility APIs that allow you to put an overlay on the screen, that was originally free for all but people abused it for clickjacking and capturing input so now it is restricted only to approved Accessibility apps.

      If an app is compiled for an older version of Android then the OS can't do that and just provides access to the API.

  7. badflorist

    "The company promises"

    Stopped reading there.

  8. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Walling the garden

    Forced updates means new APIs with tightened controls by Google. Google recently disabled microSd cards by making them scoped storage through an API that's 5x to 10000x slower than the native card speed. Google says they will grant permission to bypass that crapfest for only special circumstances. The current workaround is to use older apps or F-Droid.

    What's next? Mandatory metrics libraries? Mandatory cloud storage? Whatever feels good for Google.

  9. hayzoos

    Follow the money

    Google is further developing its ad revenue stream through user data acquisition. Its new updates and APIs are designed with that in mind. Only way to ensure adoption is by force of killing off apps using old APIs.

  10. KITT44
    WTF?

    Play Protect even disables Google's own security software !

    I recently got a "Play Protect" warning because a few apps that I have installed had not been accessed in the previous 3 months.

    Play Protect had removed Permissions from various apps including "Find My Device" from Google ! WTF !

    I checked the list of disabled apps, and at least one other was a wanted app, but how can this behaviour be helpful, disabling their own security software ?

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