Google is asking Android app developers to make apps compatible with 64-bit as of August 2019. Though Google is not asking them to ditch the 32-bit compatibility, they are asking them to support the 64-bit architecture as well. The reason for this is simple. Going forward, all the Android devices will essentially be 64-bit, and therefore, it makes sense for the developers to adapt to this change.
Android app developers – what changes to expect
Meanwhile by August 2018, Google wants all new apps to be compatible with Android Oreo. Then in November, updates to the existing apps will also have to be compatible with the Oreo. Google stated that time and again they have pushed the developers to make their apps backwards compatible, but mere suggestions or encouragement hardly work. Giving an example, the search engine giant stated that tablet apps are one example of how the developers are reluctant to update their apps.
Further, Google also plans to introduce security metadata in each APK verifying that it was officially distributed by Google Play.
“Additionally, in early 2018, Play will start adding a small amount of security metadata on top of each APK to further verify app authenticity. You do not need to take any action for this change,” Google said in a blog post.
For this metadata, the Android app developers and end users have nothing to do as the maximum APK size is adjusted to account for the metadata, and the app functionality will remain the same.
According to Google, “this metadata will enable new distribution opportunities for developers in the future and help more people keep their apps up to date.”
Google is also introducing some API level requirements starting later in 2018. Many of these changes, however, are applicable to the apps that declare support for new API behaviors, through the targetSdkVersion manifest attribute. For instance, all the apps with a targetSdkVersion of 23 (the API level of Android 6.0) or higher allow users to select what privacy data, such as location or contacts, can be accessed by the app via runtime permission. Further, the recent changes also prevent the apps from exhausting resources such as battery, memory and background execution limits.
Ensuring a consistent experience across Android apps
With these updates and changes, Google wants to ensure that the Android apps are always in line with the latest Android releases. With every new version of Android, the makers lift up the security features, so the app developers clinging onto the older versions leave their apps and their users vulnerable.
Further, Google’s latest decision affects OEMs as well, which will be stripped of the option of using an older version of Android, which is often the case in the low-end devices. Moreover, Google has already released Android Go, the trimmed version of Android designed for the low-end smartphones.
In a blog post, Google stated that 2017 had been a fantastic year for the developers on Google Play.
“We’ve been hard at work on features (including those announced at I/O 2017 and at Playtime) to help you improve your app quality and business performance,” the search engine giant said, adding that the new features and the upcoming updates, would hopefully further improve the Android and Play ecosystem in 2018 and beyond.