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..
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.