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Somewhat recently, Google has made the change that apps need to use a recent API level for people on newer Android versions to be able to see it in the Play Store. This means that many apps (mostly games, since they are often released once and then not updated) are no longer available, even though they would be compatible with my device if I could get an APK. However, I cannot find APKs for these apps online, because they are paid.

This article says "Users who have previously installed the app from Google Play will not be impacted and will still be able to discover, reinstall, and use the app on any Android OS version that your app supports." This implies that if I was able to buy the app, I would be able to install it even on my newer device. The problem is, I don't have an older device. I only have my phone, so when I try to purchase it from the Google Play website, it says "No eligible devices for app install". Is there a way to add a fake device with an older version of Android to my Google Play account so I can purchase these apps? I am running Linux so I don't know how to install an Android emulator for older versions of Android.

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Yes, Google enforces a certain targetSdkVersion, but that requirement is not relevant if you can see an app in Google Play Store or not, instead it is the minSdkVersion and that version is not enforced by Google at all. So it is up to the app developer which minimum Android version is supported. There are also other requirements like certain hardware present like ARM 64bit CPU (ARM-v8a support), camera, Bluetooth, telephony hardware,...

Aurora Store

A relatively simple way to download apps from Google Play Store that you can not see in Play Store app is Aurora Store. Aurora Store is a re- implementation of Google Play Store as Open Source. Note that you can not buy apps using Aurora Store but it can download non-free apps you already own.

It allows to use own Google accounts as well as a pool of public Google accounts. And for both account types it has a large list of hardware definitions (virtual devices) it can download apps for, like Google Pixel 7a or Google Pixel Tablet, devices from OnePlus, Redmi, ... even Android TV devices like Sony Bravia.

You can use Aurora Store to download and install those apps. After download you will see if the app can be installed or not and if the app is capable to run at all on your device.

Note that Aurora Store works very often but some apps you can download via Play Store it fails because of unknown restriction, like country or carrier restriction.

Emulator

Alternatively you can try the emulator approach. If you have a fast Internet connection and enough disk space you can simply download Android Studio which initializes Android SDK on first start and from within Android SDK you can set-up Android Emulator. Google provides emulator images with pre-installed Play Store, in the "Virtual Device manager" when creating a new virtual device like Pixel 3a and change to the Other Images page. Especially for old games use an an image for the ABI armeabi-v7a and for newer games one with arm64-v8a. And always make sure to use an image that has in the Target at the end the addition (Google APIs), such images have pre-installed Google Play Store.

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  • No, you can't purchase apps via Aurora Store. That only allows you to install either free apps or apps you have already purchased, but I am unable to purchase them without an older device on my google account. Once I have bought the apps, I will be able to install them without issue. That is not the problem. It is the purchasing of the apps.
    – rbits
    Jan 16 at 8:18
  • @rbits The topic AuroraStore and non-free apps is exactly what I have written. My answer is a bit more general and focuses more on download, therefore I added the emulator section which AFAIR also allows to buy apps. Unfortunately your question misses what device you have because a lot of modern devices are arm64-v8a only so older games developed for arm-v7 can not run anymore.
    – Robert
    Jan 16 at 8:28
  • Zenfone 9, the games will run fine on it. I downloaded Android Studio and created an Android 10 image, but for one of the apps it said it was too old and for the other it said it was too new. I guess I'll have to have multiple images...
    – rbits
    Jan 17 at 9:38

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