All Android apps must adopt 64-bit support by August 2019, Google announced earlier this week, adding that the requirement also pertains to updates with their native libraries. The 32-bit support isn't being discontinued by the Alphabet-owned tech giant but won't be enough if you're hoping to have your Android app featured in the Google Play Store starting 16 months from now. Outdated and abandoned apps may be removed from Google's digital marketplace starting in 2019 but only if the company determines doing so won't alienate users of older devices and Android versions.
The change was described as part of Google's efforts to improve both the security and performance of software running on its omnipresent mobile operating system. While 64-bit support doesn't automatically guarantee either, it's more conducive to developing solutions that are both consistent and secure, the company noted. Due to the same reasons, Google announced two more changes to its developer guidelines, revealing that developers will soon have to start targeting recent Android API levels and revealing that all APKs distributed through the Google Play Store will soon be ennobled with additional security metadata meant to verify that they actually came from the company's marketplace. The latter change will debut in early 2018 and isn't anything app developers need to be concerned about as the metadata will be added automatically to their apps upon approval.
The targeted API level requirement is more significant for the development community and will be implemented next August, meaning developers will have to start targeting Android 8.0 Oreo's interfaces eight months from now. As is the case with 64-bit support, apps won't have to exclusively cater to the latest technology and doing so would actually hurt their potential performance due to the fragmented nature of the Android ecosystem. However, the change will prevent developers from doing something like releasing an app without Android P support in mid-2019. With most of Google's mobile security and performance optimizations being delivered in the form of major Android updates and APIs accompanying them, the new guidelines make for a logical extension of the company's software strategy. Security concerns are also the reason for Google's recently announced decision to stop supporting the Device Administration API with Android R for enterprise customers. The Google Play Store is unlikely to fully drop support for 32-bit apps before 2021 as handsets and tablets utilizing the said architecture are expected to continue being released on a regular basis in the coming years.