Is Google pressuring manufacturers to launch with the newest Android?

Is Google pressuring manufacturers to launch with the newest Android?
Ever since Sundar Pichai took over as head of Android, Google has been exerting more and more control over the ecosystem. It started with the Google Experience device roster, and moved on to rumors that Google has made deals with Samsung to provide a more Googley experience in TouchWiz. Now, there is a rumor that Google is pressuring manufacturers to launch devices with the newest version of Android.

According to a leaked document, Google has instituted a policy stating that if a manufacturer wants to release a device with Google Mobile Services (GMS), which includes Google Apps and Google Play services, the manufacturer will have to have a newer version of Android installed on that device. If the leak is accurate, Google effectively killed Android 4.1 and lower at the beginning of February. Any device planned to launch with Android 4.1 or lower will no longer meet the requirements for GMS. After April 24th 2014, Android 4.2 won't be allowed; and, as of July 31st 2014, the window for Android 4.3 will close. 

It is unclear what the plan will be moving forward, but the rumor states that the previous version of Android will see its window close 9 months after a newer version is released. As you see in the chart below, because Android 4.4 was released on October 31st 2013, 9 months later (July 31st 2014) the window closes on Android 4.3. Once you combine this with the requirement to update device software to the newest version released in the 18-month window after the device is released, we could see a very different look to the Android distribution charts going forward. 



1. NoFanboy

Posts: 300; Member since: Nov 18, 2013


9. akki20892

Posts: 3902; Member since: Feb 04, 2013

of course it's good. Because we know many budget phones release with old version of android. It's great, that people can enjoy latest version of android who can't afford high end phones. Google keep it up and make people Happy.

13. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

very good. I think Google should be even more aggressive with this personally, 6 months would be better than 9.

20. rd_nest

Posts: 1656; Member since: Jun 06, 2010

Well, personally I hate this. I refuse to update to 4.4. My N4 still is working on 4.3. Until Google stop playing with user privacy (read: app opp), I don't want to update to 4.4. The best feature of 4.3 was app opp. This was the only thing that looked interesting to me. They removed it in 4.4. Now tell me why would a company like Google remove such a feature unless it doesn't want users to control the privacy? Don't care about small minor features of 4.4 when I lose such big option from 4.3

21. hassoups

Posts: 473; Member since: Jun 06, 2013

I rooted my nexus 5 and switched to a rom for this very reason.

26. nobrainer

Posts: 16; Member since: Feb 11, 2014

i didnt root my phone but i uninstalled and disabled all google services and apps on my Z1 because of this reason.

28. g2a5b0e unregistered

Perhaps you should reread the article. It's not saying you'll be forced to update your device. You can keep whatever version you're running for as long as you want. There just won't be any new devices sporting those older versions after a certain date.

23. AppleHateBoy unregistered

So, LG can still launch devices with Android 4.2. ;(

2. petedavison93

Posts: 18; Member since: Mar 28, 2013

It's about time too! Good move Google.

3. XperiaOptimusOne unregistered

They should. 4.3JB already seems outdated let alone 4.2 and below. Plus its 2014 for crying out loud!

4. alrightihatepickingusernames

Posts: 474; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

Google seriously needs to quit the 18-month policy if they really want manufacturers to update their devices.

14. Adrian38

Posts: 142; Member since: Nov 05, 2012

Isn't that the manufactures choice? I'm pretty sure if the manufactures wanted, they could keep updating older devices. Google can't force a manufactures to stop updating devices. That's all on the manufacturers.

27. alrightihatepickingusernames

Posts: 474; Member since: Dec 29, 2013

The nexus devices are basically Google's image for what they want for android. When they won't update for even 2 years it sets a bad example for other OEMs.

29. g2a5b0e unregistered

The 18-month policy is a minimum, not a maximum. Manufacturers can update their devices as long as they want. I don't understand why people find that so hard to understand. There are many Android devices that have seen support for longer than 18 months.

5. Berzerk000

Posts: 4275; Member since: Jun 26, 2011

So after July, all new devices will be launched with 4.4 at least? That's awesome.

6. rickywinataa

Posts: 262; Member since: Apr 05, 2012

A very nice move by google to exert latest version of android on any kind of device. Making any android phones' experience more similiar to how google intends it to be will give customer easier transition should they change brand from samsung to htc or lg for example

7. GeekMovement unregistered

Great news!

8. Killua

Posts: 270; Member since: Nov 25, 2013

Good. So manufacturers can speed up their updating process for devices that is capable of it. It helps reducing fragmentations too.

10. __0__

Posts: 242; Member since: Jan 07, 2014

4.1 is good enough. ICS should be closed but I think 4.1 should be kept.

18. kaikuheadhunterz

Posts: 1157; Member since: Jul 18, 2013

I think so too. It still supports most apps in the Play Store

11. networkdood

Posts: 6330; Member since: Mar 31, 2010

Google should expect new phones such as the G FLEX to be released with the latest software (which it was not) least we have lots of sites such as XDA who give us custom ROMs...

12. menaV1

Posts: 21; Member since: Oct 14, 2013

A step closer of getting KK on my droid RAZR HD

15. InspectorGadget80 unregistered

Just got 4.3 jelly bean on my Z1 still anxiously waiting for 4.4

16. Bioload25

Posts: 213; Member since: Nov 12, 2012

I love your articles Michael! Only quality stuff ;)

17. DigitalJedi_X2

Posts: 346; Member since: Jan 30, 2012

Awesome! Its about time Google started doing this.

19. Taters

Posts: 6474; Member since: Jan 28, 2013

That's horrible. You think the manufacturer's WANT to release older versions for fun just to make Google look bad? The only reason a manufacturers release outdated versions is because Google doesn't make a big enough effort to give manufacturers enough time to include a newer version. Each manufacturer has a set deadline and in order to reach that deadline they have to start designing the phone. And if Android 5.0 isn't out yet and Google doesn't tell you that it's coming soon then you have to start the phone at 4.4 or you'll miss your deadline. If Google wants this to get better they need to give full disclosure and full access to the OS when it is in development still. Or simply stick to an exact release date and only one update a year like Apple does. If you release 4.1 AND 4.2 less than 6 months apart then you better flicking believe that manufacturers won't be able to keep up. Either reserve the updates strictly to the nexus phones at once a year and let the nexus 7 and nexus 10 use an older OS or expect the manufacturers to be behind at all times.

22. hassoups

Posts: 473; Member since: Jun 06, 2013


24. AppleHateBoy unregistered

You are missing the point. Google is not asking you to start working on the next version the moment it's released. LG and Chinese OEMs skipped Android 4.3 for a reason. They know they don't have enough time to support all versions so they support alternate versions. If you look closely at the table, LG and Chinese OEMs can still release devices with 4.2. By the time the deadline of 4.2 goes by their 4.4 ROM would be ready to roll. Then they can skip Android API level 20 (if it's released too soon) and go straight for Android API Level 21. Any thoughts???

25. wiiandds

Posts: 64; Member since: Mar 15, 2013

agree, this force the manufacturer to update there new flagship phone. think about it, the galaxy s3 is now running 4.4. before the old flagship phone would be done with updates after the new flagship phone came out. i think google is doing the right move.

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