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With some of the behavior changes being very visible to users (the deprecation of the menu button, runtime permissions, etc), updating to target the latest SDK should be a high priority for every app.

That doesn’t mean you have to use every new feature introduced nor should you blindly update your target Sdk Version without testing — please, test before updating your target Sdk Version! So setting the correct compile Sdk Version, min Sdk Version, and target Sdk Version is important.

Depending on the time of the year, it might only be a few months after you release an app that a new version of Android is announced.

Using the new Android SDK is a requirement to use any of the new APIs added in that level.

It should be emphasized that changing your compile Sdk Version does not change runtime behavior.

Note that if you use the Support Library, compiling with the latest SDK is a for using the latest Support Library releases.

For example, to use the 23.1.1 Support Library, you must have a compile Sdk Version of at least 23 (those first numbers need to match! In general, a new version of the Support Library is released alongside a new platform version, providing compatibility shims to newly added APIs as well as new features.

When deciding on a min Sdk Version, you should consider the stats on the Dashboards, which give you a global look on all devices that visited the Google Play Store in the prior 7 days — that’s your potential audience when putting an app on Google Play.

It is ultimately a business decision on whether supporting an additional 3% of devices is worth the development and testing time required to ensure the best experience.

This allows you to use new APIs (as you did update your compile Sdk Version right? Much of the behavior changes that target Sdk Version implies are documented directly in the VERSION_CODES, but all of the gory details are also listed on the each releases’ platform highlights, nicely linked in the API Levels table.

For example, the Android 6.0 changes talk through how targeting API 23 transitions your app to the runtime permissions model and the Android 4.4 behavior changes detail how targeting API 19 or higher changes how alarms set with work.

Ideally, the relationship would look more like this in the steady state: You’ll hit the biggest audience with a low min Sdk Version and look and act the best by targeting and compiling with the latest SDK — a great way to #Build Better Apps.

Join the discussion on the Google post and follow the Android Development Patterns Collection for more!

For build reproducibility all my dependencies are defined with a version number like this in my build.gradle file: Periodically I want to update every package to their latest version.

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