Google Play service to drop support for Android Gingerbread, Honeycomb in early 2017


21 Jun 2013
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In an Android Developers blog post, Google has announced that the Play services 10.0.0 and Firebase 10.0.0 client libraries for Android will be the last versions to support Android API level 9 through API level 13. The next version of these libraries, that is the version 10.2.0, will increase the minimum supported API level from 9 to 14 (Android 4.0.1, Ice Cream Sandwich) and will be released by early 2017. In other words, for the new version of Play Services to work, smartphones will require a minimum of Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and above. As a result, the lower version Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 3.0/3.1/3.2 Honeycomb will be dropped by next year.

Introduced first in 2012, Google Play services is
Google’s background service and API package for Android. It’s the company’s way of delivering updates and improvements for its services and apps to Android users without actually upgrading the whole operating system. Google explains that one of the reasons for discontinuing support for Gingerbread, is that many Android developers have already discontinued support for Gingerbread in their apps. This helps developers build better apps by making use of newer capabilities of the Android platform. And it works similarly for Google as well. By making this change, Google will be able to provide a more robust collection of tools for Android developers with greater speed.

As for the users who are still on the older version, you may use version 10.0.0 of Google Play services and Firebase as you are currently. Developers are being asked to use a minimum of API level 14, and those opting to follow these guidelines will no longer be able to deliver updates to older devices. However, users will still be able to download the most recently published version of the app that does target their device.

Looking how the Android distribution stands right now, a very little percentage of users are still working with these versions of Android OS. According to the Android distribution numbers for the first week of November, Gingerbread (2.3.3 and 2.3.7 combined) has reduced its presence from 1.5 percent to 1.3 percent. Ice Cream Sandwich (4.0.3 and 4.0.4 combined) joins Gingerbread with 1.3 percent, a decrease from the previous 1.4 percent. This is in comparison to the new version, where Marshmallow runs on 24 percent devices, while Lollipop (5.0 and 5.1 combined) leads the charts with 34.1 percent market share, followed by KitKat with 25.2 percent. Jelly Bean (4.1.x and 4.2.x combined) comes third with 13.7 percent.

Google Play service to drop support for Android Gingerbread, Honeycomb in early 2017
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