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Google to Mandate that Play Store Apps Beef Up Security

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Dec 20, 2017, 8:23 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @phonescooper

Google will force developers to adhere to new guidelines beginning next year in an effort to improve the security of apps and the Android devices on which those apps run. To start, Google will require new apps to target API level 26 (Android 8) by August 2018. API level 26 introduced a wide range of new tools that boost security and end-user privacy. Existing apps will need to target API level 26 by November 2018. Beginning in 2019, all apps will need to target the corresponding API for the current Android dessert release. Another change on deck for 2019: all apps will need to support 64-bit code. Google introduced 64-bit cpmputing in Android 5 and says more than 40% of all Android devices already rely on 64-bit (though they also still support 32-bit). According to Google, all apps will need to adopt 64-bit, either in the same APK or in one of multiple APKs for their Play Store app. This is meant to boost app performance more so than security. (Apple discontinued all support for 32-bit apps when it released iOS 11 earlier this year.) Last, Google says it will begin to add security metadata on top of each APK for verification purposes. Google refers to this as "a Play badge of authenticity" for Android apps. This will not require developers or users to take any overt action. Google said more security updates are in the works. Developers can learn more about these changes via the Android Developer Blog.

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