New and updated applications on the Google Play Store will be required to implement support for Android 9 Pie by the end of 2019.
Since 2017 Google has been committed to driving the improvement of the apps for Android by requiring them to adapt to a certain level of API, so as to take advantage of all the new features of the reference platform. After setting Android 8.0 as a target to be reached for all new and updated applications from November last year, Google has now shared a new post on the Android Developers Blog which requires the implementation of support for Android 9 Pie by the end of this year.
In particular, starting next August, all new apps wishing to land on the Google Play Store will be required to support APIs 28 or higher. By November, all new versions of applications already on the Google store will have to undergo the same condition. It is worth remembering that the applications on the Google Play Store that are not updated are not required to adapt.
According to Google, the strengthening of this rule has brought benefits especially from the point of view of the end users of the app. For example, during 2018 there were over 150,000 apps that added support to the new Android Oreo features.
The other application stores in the Android panorama are less stringent than the Google Play Store : Chinese stores such as Huawei, OPPO, Vivo, Xiaomi, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have set API 26 for the 2019 target.
Google is also moving to protect Android in case of app installation via sideloading : it has been found that more than 95% of external spyware at the Play Store supports API 22 or lower to avoid runtime permissions. For this reason, to protect them against malware, Google Play Protect will warn users whenever they try to install APKs that do not support recent APIs. Specifically, from August 2019 the warning will be shown for new apps that do not support API level 26 or higher, from November 2019 will then touch the new versions of existing apps. The required API level will obviously advance from year to year.