Apps developers will have to target the latest Android API when developing new apps or updating existing ones. They will also have to make 64-bit versions of apps and add a security metadata to apps.
Google is doubling down on app security and performance for smartphones. App developers for Google Play will need to adhere to a few changes which include compulsory 64-bit versions by 2019 and new apps and updates to target the most recent Android API level. Developers are also required to add security metadata to each app APK file.
Google announced the changes on the Android Developers Blog. 64-bit support for apps was introduced in Android 5.0 but now Google has made it mandatory. Developers are now required to submit a compulsory 64-bit library in their APKs by August 2019. However, apps that do not have native code will remain unaffected. Over 40 percent devices coming online have 64-bit support, along with maintaining 32-bit compatibility, according to Google. Apple too laid down similar mandate on iOS 11 by ending support for 32-bit libraries in June this year.
Secondly, developers making new apps or updating existing apps will have to target API level 26 (for Android 8.0 Oreo) or higher. Google will enforce this requirement from August 2018 for new apps and November 2018 for existing apps. From now on, apps and app updates have to target the latest API level which will advance with each Android version upgrade.
Lastly, developers will need to add security metadata to each app APK to verify as officially distributed by Google Play. The security metadata will be included into the APK Signing Block without altering the app’s functionality. It will exist as a Play Badge of authenticity for the Android app.
The changes are part of Google’s continuous efforts to improve app stability and security on the Play Store. In August, Google had rolled out performance and stability rankings for apps and over 300 apps were removed from the Play Store for security loopholes.
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