Ask LH: How Can I Check An App's Compatibility With New Versions Of Android?

Dear Lifehacker, I am looking to upgrade my Android phone. How can I check that my must-have apps are compatible with the phones I am considering? Thanks, Android Alert

Dear AA,

Google Play automatically tells users if an app is supported by their devices -- but the hardware need to be registered to your account first. This can make it tricky to check the app-compatibility of products you don't actually own yet.

I wouldn't be surprised if there were websites out there dedicated to providing this information, but I've not personally come across one (a cursory Google search also yielded nothing). If any readers could shed some light here, feel free to add a link in the comments section below.

A slightly tedious solution is to check each and every app's 'additional information' section in the Google Play Store. While you probably won't get an exhaustive list of compatible devices, it will let you know which version of Android is required to make the app run. You can then check this against the operating system of the phone you want to purchase.

Alternatively, you could also try contacting your telco provider armed with a list of your "must-have" apps. Provided they stock the model you're after, they should be more than happy to help.

With all that said, you probably have nothing to worry about no matter which new phone you go for. App publishers and developers are constantly updating their offerings to ensure they work with the latest Android hardware and operating systems. So unless the apps in question are incredibly old and obscure they will almost certainly work on your new device.

Here's what Google has to say about app compatibility on its developer page:

Android has built-in tools and support that make it easy for your apps to cope with many different types of devices, while at the same time letting you maintain control of what types of devices your app is available to.


Whenever Android introduces new features or changes existing ones, we will always take steps to protect existing applications so that they don’t end up being available to devices where they won’t work.

In other words, if the new phone has Android 4.0 or up -- which is very likely -- most of your existing apps should work fine. Relax and enjoy the benefits of your new phone.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    More importantly, your apps may not support 4.4 on day one, but if they support 4.x then there shouldn't be an issue.

    If any of your apps don't support 4.x then throw them away, they are years behind and it is simply not worth using an app which isn't kept remotely up to date by the author.

    I'm having the same problem. I can find generalized android version compatibility info, I can't find device specific info. For example : Assassins creed identity is a very demanding game, and out of 6 devices I have owned, it could only run on 1 of them, no matter if the android version is listed as compatible or not. Its the same with a couple more demanding games. I'm surprised there isn't any sites like "can I run it?" for android.

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