Android 14 will block old sideloading apps

Google’s upcoming mobile operating system (OS), Android 14, will block sideloading of apps targeting older software versions to prevent the spread of malware, 9to5Google reports.

The company recently updated the Google Play Store guidelines, requiring newly listed apps to be at least compatible with Android 12.

There is a way around this. Developers who create apps for older versions of Android may trick users into manually uploading APK files.

However, a recently released code change revealed that Android 14’s API requirements could be much stricter and block the installation of older apps entirely.

This includes blocking the sideloading of certain APK files and installing those same apps through various app stores.

“If the minimum installable SDK version app is enabled, block the installation of apps using a lower target SDK version than required,” the changes read.

“This helps improve security and privacy, as malware can target older SDK versions to avoid enforcing new API behavior.”

It should be noted that Google plans to increase the Android 6.0 threshold over time. The company added that it has a mechanism to “gradually increase [it] up”.

However, it will likely be up to individual device makers to decide on a threshold for outdated apps.

Google hopes that blocking outdated apps will help limit the spread of malware on Android.

9to5Google noted that installing outdated apps on Android devices will still be possible.

However, this will require users to process the installation through a command shell. The steps to get it right will help ensure that only people who better understand the risks can sideload older apps.