Google has now laid out clear guidelines for all developers who want to make apps for the Play Store moving forward.
In a lengthy post on the Android Developers Blog, Google focused on new policies developers would need to follow if they want to continue publishing to the Play Store.
Google Announce New Play Store Requirements
Starting in August 2018, all new apps submitted to the store will have to be built with Android 8.0 Oreo in mind, or more specifically, target at least API level 26, or higher. This is in large part for security reasons, because API behavior changes advance the security and privacy protections of Android, Google says. Having developers target Android 8.0 Oreo in creating their apps ensures that people are protected from various vulnerability risks, including malware.
By November 2018, any updates to existing apps will need to be created with Android 8.0 Oreo in mind as well. What's more, in early 2018, there will be some extra metadata to APK files to verify its authenticity, and to make sure that it came from the Play Store, as apps plucked from third-party markets often carry malicious viruses. Think of it as somewhat like a badge of authenticity for Android apps.
Google Is Moving To 64-Bit Soon
But most importantly, it seems Google is finally urging developers to transition into 64-bit programming. By August 2019, all apps will be required to provide a 64-bit variant regardless if they target older versions of Android. That means apps created for older Android libraries must still have a 64-bit version ready.
Why is this important? Well, Google says there will eventually be Android devices that can only run 64-bit code, so it's necessary for developers to make that leap lest they bow out of the future Android ecosystems.
While this is a nice promise of changes to come, Google isn't exactly at the forefront of 64-bit apps for mobile platforms. Apple actually started requiring developers to code 64-bit apps in February 2015, and iOS 11 dropped 32-bit support entirely this past September, blocking the gates to outdated 32-bit apps.
How this'll affect the smartphone world remains to be seen, but at least Google is forcing its developers to make sweeping changes so as to not get left behind when people eventually only use 64-bit apps on their phones. The transition doesn't mean people can start expecting more powerful apps, though. But it does mean developers will have to start doing the dirty work, especially those who've become too reliant on 32-bit code.