I have an app that I want to install in my android phone. Unfortunately, it is marked 'incompatible'. I might try to upgrade the system to install the app, but first I'd like to know the exact reasons the app is 'incompatible'. I.e. what are the 'variables' my phone gets wrong to be unable to install the app.

Is there a generic way to do that?


From Google App compatibility with Android

When searching or browsing the Google Play Store app, you'll only see apps that are compatible with your device. When using the Google Play website, a device will be grayed out if it isn’t compatible with the app you’re attempting to install. This usually occurs because the app isn’t available in your location or designed for your device's screen size or version of Android

Developers have the ability to target applications to specific devices based on screen size, mobile service provider, location, and a number of other factors. App compatibility can change over time.

(Emphasis supplied)

Is there a generic way to do that?

  • From the same source

For compatibility information about a specific app, contact the developer directly using the information provided on the Google Play listing

  • For some apps, reason is displayed ,as in screen shot below from my device ( version incompatibility )

enter image description here

  • Few years back incompatible apps would state reasons by clicking on a plus sign next to app as mentioned here
  • 2
    Google probably took out the "+" control because that would make it too easy to diagnose the problem.
    – FractalBob
    Jan 18 '18 at 18:27

There can be a number of reasons an app may be shown as "incompatible":

  • Android version (This hit me the most on my old phone)

  • CPU architecture (eg. ARMv6, ARMv7, ARMv8, x86) - some devs may be lazy and only compile for ARMv7 and v8

  • Hardware features such as camera flash or barometer or screen size

  • As a way to excuse a regional lock (thank you EA!)

I have seen some devs quote support by device rather than by the features of any device. I don't claim to know the whole process, but I assume that this is because most people don't know or care about all these details.


Already have good answers here, but just to add ---

There are some developer APIs that are only compatible with some specific Google Play Services version / Android OS version / Screen version (as already mentioned in the other answers), and not having these specific components or specs may (sometimes) cause the application to:

  • Not start / run.
  • Crash / Cause other apps to crash.

Google Play Store itself is helping to avoid any unnecessary bad user experience.

Although most of the APIs are backward compatible, even developers are encouraged to use the most recent version of a specific API they are using.

Android is constantly changing and improving, and the best way to maximize it's benefits is to always be updated as much as possible.


If you use your device regularly in more than one country, it is essential, I think, to create a google account in each country. Don't forget your phones can have many accounts associated to them. For example, I cannot download "BBVA Wallet" to any of my devices using the account I created in the UK (in fact the app is not even listed on the phone), but if I create a new account in Spain then I can download it to all devices by switching to this account in google play. PS: it wasn't worth the trouble in the end and I deleted the app in question in less than a day :(

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