Leaked Google memo says all new Android phones must run the latest version of Android

Leaked Google memo says all new Android phones must run the latest version of Android
Google is apparently tired of reading the distribution numbers each month, and hearing about the "f" word, fragmentation. A leaked memo that allegedly was sent out to at least one handset manufacturer, states that "Starting February 2014, Google will no longer approve GMS distribution on new Android products that ship older platform releases."

According to the memo, "each platform release will have a 'GMS approval window' that typically closes nine months after the next Android platform release is publicly available." Considering that GMS stands for Google Mobile Services and covers apps like Google Now, Google Maps and the Google Play Store, a manufacturer is going to be damn sure that it follows the request on the memo.


Android 4.4 was designed to work with devices using 512MB of RAM or higher, allowing low to mid-range models to use the OS build. With this in mind, Google does not see the need for outdated versions of Android to be powering a new phone. Considering that we are past the halfway point of February, the policy certainly should be in effect now.

If you're interested in reading an intelligent look at the fragmentation issue, check out this report written back in December by our own Michael H.

source: KnowYourMobile, MobileBloom via Pocketlint

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39 Comments

1. XperiaFanZone

Posts: 2277; Member since: Sep 21, 2012

Seems alright.

12. james004

Posts: 486; Member since: May 15, 2013

should have been forced along ago, may be after ice cream sandwich release.

16. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Better late than never. This should help get the latest and greatest editions of Android out when the phones ship, rather than months and months afterwards. Side benefit could be the streamlining of manufacturer-specific skins - if the skin takes too long to get to work with the latest release of Android, the manufacturer doesn't get to ship their toys. Net-net, I think this is a positive development.

33. james004

Posts: 486; Member since: May 15, 2013

well not entirely. google is still giving 9 months of support after discontinuing distribution of service. so companies still have 9 months to procrastinate. that 9 month should be cut to 6 or 3. or atleast in near future.

34. aditya.k

Posts: 496; Member since: Mar 10, 2013

3 months? Google won't be releasing another version till then! 9 months is correct because, Google comes out with new versions after almost 6 months, so it takes time to prepare the skinned version. So yeah 9 months is the correct decision.

22. Heretic

Posts: 18; Member since: Jun 12, 2012

Yes, it should've been. My phone (inc 4g by htc) has been sitting on 4.0 since december of 2012. My contract expires 12/14. At that time i'll start looking for the OEM that updates their phones the fastest.

25. PapaSmurf

Posts: 10457; Member since: May 14, 2012

HTC and LG are out of the question. Samsung and Moto are your safest bet on Verizon.

31. Droid_X_Doug

Posts: 5993; Member since: Dec 22, 2010

Meh. I am running 4.4.2 on my unlocked One. My Maxx is still on 4.4.

2. Adrian38

Posts: 142; Member since: Nov 05, 2012

AWESOME :)

4. ihavenoname

Posts: 1693; Member since: Aug 18, 2013

Indeed. This has been a issue with Android, great that Google seems to be doing something to it. This is awesome especially for people who are buying low- and mid-range devices.

10. Adrian38

Posts: 142; Member since: Nov 05, 2012

Exactly. There really isn't any excuse for a new device in 2014 to be released with anything older than 4.3. Very excited for this :)

3. imyourpapi

Posts: 70; Member since: Jan 04, 2014

It's about time

5. mayur007

Posts: 593; Member since: Apr 10, 2012

moto g is best example ...

6. Topcat488

Posts: 1415; Member since: Sep 29, 2012

Kit Kat for everyone, EVERYBODY have a break.... YEEEEEAAAAAH.

7. pradeepreddy

Posts: 65; Member since: Apr 01, 2013

gr8. if PCs can get windows updates no matter who is the manufacturer, then why not Phone!!!

14. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

Exactly, it shouldn't be any different.

26. sprockkets

Posts: 1612; Member since: Jan 16, 2012

There are plenty of pcs that can't be updated to a newer version of windows due to lack of driver support. Same with Android.

8. CreeDiddy

Posts: 2147; Member since: Nov 04, 2011

This should have been their policy back in 2007. Why now? I have been saying it time and time again about Google taking more responsibility with updates. Good for them...

19. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

Google probably had a lax policy to lure in manufacturers, that would be my guess.

9. PBXtech

Posts: 1032; Member since: Oct 21, 2013

Optimizing the OS is something that Google did to make this happen, and it'll pay off big time. Kinda sad it took so long, but considering how much Android has changed since the G1, they've been more than busy packing it with features. Now hopefully OEMs will keep updating phones already sold.

11. Tuxedo

Posts: 356; Member since: Mar 19, 2013

About time!!

13. IliyaBeshkov

Posts: 261; Member since: Jul 09, 2012

Good job! :)

15. 1701nino unregistered

I'll beleive it when i see it.Ohh and one more thing my nexus 4 with vanilla kit kat has random reboots especially when i'm in the camera app.Any expanation?

30. Professor

Posts: 223; Member since: Aug 02, 2013

I also have a Nexus 4 with the latest version of kit Kat and I do not have any problem with the camera. My problem is with the Navigation program or better explained no longer having a Navigation program since Kit Kat upgrade deleted the program and the Maps program don't work anymore after the Kit Kat upgrade. The map program opens but is only able to locate where you are located (and only sometimes) but is unable to locate any typed address to navigate to... So the Kit Kat upgrade eliminated my navigation or GPS and somehow just increased drastically battery use plus makes my phone to work way hotter to the point that I have to turn it off sometimes for fear of damaging it due to feeling it working way too hot.

17. lewis14

Posts: 8; Member since: Jan 11, 2014

Finally. They shouldve had this a long time ago. And there should be a mandatory update for all devices android 4.1+ to update to 4.4

18. Qbancelli

Posts: 75; Member since: Mar 11, 2010

Yes, you have a defective phone. Fix it!

24. JunitoNH

Posts: 1946; Member since: Feb 15, 2012

No, he has an Android device.

20. Genersis

Posts: 219; Member since: May 29, 2013

So come July, no more new Jelly Bean phones will be approved for Google services? I wonder if this counts for incremental releases too... Either way, I hope this is genuine. :)

21. Mr.Mr.Upgrade

Posts: 474; Member since: Aug 30, 2011

Other manufacturers should let Google control updates 100%

23. terabyteRouser

Posts: 457; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

I'm not sure if it is clear but, this will only impact new phones. Will not impact the phone you currently own. This may speed up the upgrade process but it's also possible that it will not. It depends if they mean, shipping the phones from manufacturer versus phones that are already sitting on shelves and have not been sold outside of that nine-month window. If it does apply to phones that have already been shipped and are on store shelves, then it's a safe bet that everyone would get upgrades within 9 months, but if not we're looking at the same thing.

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