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Google may be ready to force more OEMs to deliver new devices with current versions of Android

One of the biggest issues for many with the Android ecosystem today is fragmentation. The problem is that there are still many new smartphones and tablets shipped today that don’t include a current build of Android. This annoyance becomes even worse when you consider that many OEMs drag their feet when it comes to providing OS updates for customers.
According to a new report from Android Police, Google is going to force OEMs to certify their Android devices with a recent version of the Android OS if they want to gain access to Google Mobile Services (GMS). GMS includes a license for apps like Gmail, Google Play, Maps, YouTube, etc.

API Version GMS approval window open (AOSP release date) GMS approval window close
Gingerbread 6-Dec-2010 1-Feb-2014
Honeycomb 24-Feb-2011 1-Feb-2014
Ice Cream Sandwich 16-Dec-2011 1-Feb-2014
4.1 (API level 16) 12-Jul-2012 1-Feb-2014
4.2 (API level 17) 13-Nov-2012 24-Apr-2014
4.3 (API level 18) 25-July-2013 31-Jul-2014
4.4 (API level 19) 31-Oct-2013 TBA with API level 20 release

The chart above (which was reportedly sent to an unnamed Android OEM partner) clearly shows the window for OEMs to certify a device running Android 4.1 or lower has closed. This is particularly interesting since Android 4.1 continues to be the most popular version of Android.
If this chart is accurate, that means that as of now, any new device submitted to Google for GMS approval needs to be running at least Android 4.2 or higher.
A description from Google that is claimed to have been sent along with the chart reads:
Starting February 2014, Google will no longer approve GMS distribution on new Android products that ship older platform releases. Each platform release will have a “GMS approval window” that typically closes nine months after the next Android platform release is publicly available. (In other words, we all have nine months to get new products on the latest platform after its public release.)
Google promises to help OEMs with continued optimization for Android with low memory devices. Google also says that it will provide OEM partners early access to new OS releases via the Platform Development Kit.
According to Android Police, this new policy does not affect device updates; it only pertains to the version of Android installed on brand new hardware.

Source: Android Police

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RE: Takes Care of the New. But, What of the Old?
By Solandri on 2/11/2014 4:22:56 PM , Rating: 2
But having said that, I think device makers ought to make updates available for those devices (I don't care how old the device is) as long as the device is capable of running the latest OS.

My old phone was a Galaxy S variant. It was pretty high-end at the time with 512 MB of RAM.

Towards the end I was running Cyanogenmod 10 (Android 4.1) on it. It worked, but not that well. 512 MB just isn't enough. The standard complement of Google's apps (search, mail, etc) ends up consuming over 300 MB, and a little here and there quickly takes you up to 512 MB.

I'm planning to keep the phone as a loaner when someone from out-of-country visits. Set it up with a pay as you go plan on a MVNO. But I'll be downgrading it back to Android 2.3.

By Manch on 2/11/2014 6:55:25 PM , Rating: 2
I still have my old galaxy phone. I use it as a touch pad/ keyboard for my media pc. Works better than those shifty Bluetooth keyboard/touch pads on amazon and it doesn't eat up too much space on my coffee table.

While I never buy a phone based on promised updates after that phone(LEARNED MY LESSON!) when I eventually upgraded it to a newer version I switched back because of the performance hit wasn't worth the minimal feature set upgrade to me.

The mod community is more than willing to support legacy devices, so the least the manufacturers should do is not lock them down.

"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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