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It’s all happening at API Level 26 these days

Android devs: Have you updated to the latest API level yet?

Jane Elizabeth
Android
© Shutterstock / Oksana Mizina

The decision has come down from on high: all Android developers should update their apps to the latest Android APIs after August 1, 2018. Google Play now requires all new apps and app updates to target API level 26 for security and performance reasons.

Back in May at Google I/O 2018, Google told developers that they really need to update their Android APIs after August 1st, 2018. This reminder is a few days late, but that just means that this it’s even more useful.

Google Play now requires all new apps to target API level 26 (Android 8.0) for security and performance reasons. This requirement is months in the making – the Android Developers Blog announced this change back in 2017.

Why do we need these Android updates?

Google Play is one of the largest hubs for app developers around the world. So, it’s not surprising that they want to make sure everyone’s favorite apps are safe and secure. By ensuring that the latest APIs are targeted, Google Play is optimizing for security and performance.

Major changes in each Android dessert release mean security and performance improvements for all Android users. However, some of these changes will only apply to apps that explicitly declare support through their targetSdkVersion manifest attribute (AKA the target API level).

So, if you don’t have the right target API level, you and your app miss out on all those fun performance improvements. When Android developers configure their apps to run on the highest/latest API level, they get all the improvements of the recent release, while still letting it run on an older Android version.

Google Play is taking a few small steps to keep everyone up to date with three simple changes:

  • August 1, 2018 – All new apps required to target API level 26 (Android 8.0) or higher.
  • November 1, 2018 – Updates to existing apps are now required to target API level 26 or higher.
  • 2019 and beyond – Each year the targetSdkVersion requirement will increase. A year after every Android dessert release, all the new apps and app updates will need to target this corresponding API level or higher to keep the ball rolling.

However, any existing apps that do not receive any updates are fine and will remain unaffected. Additionally, if developers want to build an app for older Android versions, there is no change to the minSdkVersion. Developers should provide backwards compatibility as much as reasonable possible.

SEE ALSO: If you give a dev a cookie: Android 8.0 Oreo launches with great fanfare

How to migrate to Android Oreo

Want to make sure your apps are in compliance with this new rule? Google Play has got you covered. There’s a migration guide available here, with directions based on your app’s current API level. Plus, the how-to session from Google I/O ’18, “Migrate your existing app to target Android Oreo and above”, is available on YouTube. The procedure is relatively easy and shouldn’t take too much time at all. The benefits of a secure, optimized app are surely worth it!

Author
Jane Elizabeth
Jane Elizabeth is an assistant editor for JAXenter.com.

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