The Play Store created some controversy last month after announcing plans to remove apps that used Accessibility Services for any purpose that didn’t directly relate to disabled users. While Google is reconsidering the best implementation for the Accessibility Services policy, a separate announcement introduces additional policies intended to help make apps distributed through the Play Store more secure and possibly improve performance. Over the next two years, developers will be required to target a recent SDK version in their app updates and provide 64-bit versions of native apps if they aren’t already. The Play Store will also begin adding some new metadata to APKs for verification purposes, but most developers shouldn’t need to worry about this.
Target API level
Starting in late-2018, all new and updated apps will be required to target an SDK that is no more than 1 year older than the current codename release.
For example, following the release of Android P, developers will only be able to publish apps targeting Android 8.0 Oreo (API 26) or above. With the release of Android Q in the following year, the new minimum target API level will become P (likely API 28), and so on. The phrasing of the policy appears to center on the major codename releases, which means mid-term updates like 8.1 (API 27) will probably not factor in.
As a reminder, target API level is different from minimum API level. As the name implies, minimum API level is used to declare the lowest version of Android an app supports. The target API level is technically defined as the version of the operating system an app was tested to work with; but in more practical terms, it’s used to define a set of behaviors an app expects from the operating system. For example, an app can target API 26 (Android 8.1) while