Changes with Android 14 impose restrictions on the apps smartphone users can install on their devices. This is true even if you are sideloading the software instead of installing it from the Play Store.
Google’s changes should help stop the spread of malware that exploits exploits found in older builds of the Android OS, but if you’re a heavy user of sideloaders, using non-Play Store apps can be a little more difficult. There is a possibility that
The latest Android version, or the latest iOS build from Apple, or the annual release of Microsoft’s Windows OS, doesn’t just bring new features available to the best Android smartphones. It also includes new hidden security tools that make it harder for hackers to break into your device. Eventually hackers will find a way to circumvent the protection, but hopefully by that time Google will have moved well beyond Android 14 to a version of the OS that hasn’t yet been cracked.
However, finding flaws in older Android OS builds is not in vain. A hacker can create apps that specifically target these older versions of his Google’s OS and exploit the flaws to circumvent some of the protections of smartphones installed on the device.
Thankfully, Google can stop a lot of this by putting restrictions on new and updated apps available from the Play Store. Currently, newly listed Play Store smartphone apps must target Android 12 or higher (or Android 11 or higher if built for WearOS) in order to be accepted into Google’s official app store.
It looks like a big update is coming to Android (via 9to5Google) (opens in new tab)) is that these app restrictions no longer exist for Play Store apps only. Code changes for Android 14 (opens in new tab) If the file targets an Android version that is too old, or if the user is trying to install an app that is not available from the Play Store (such as sideloading an APK file), it will be blocked from action.
Initially, this change only blocks users from installing apps from the oldest builds of Android, but eventually restricts sideloaders from installing applications that support Android 5 and earlier. So if you have a favorite non-Google Play Store app built on a very old version of Android, you can encourage developers to update that app before Android 14 rolls out.
That said, you can still install the old app, just a few extra steps in your command shell. (opens in new tab)While this certainly makes the process cumbersome, it can greatly reduce the chances of someone accidentally sideloading malware onto your hardware, as you’ll have to think twice before installing an app.
Over time, it is expected that Google will introduce restrictions that lock users to even newer builds of Android. However, in the fight against malicious software, this strategy seems like a good compromise, balancing the freedom and security that has attracted so many users to the platform.
If you don’t mind looking for a more secure OS and restricting downloads even more, you’ll want to go for one of the best iPhones, which makes sideloading apps much harder.