Gingerbread and Honeycomb to lose Google Play Services support in next update


It may be hard to believe, but there are actually still some devices out there in the world running older versions of Android like Gingerbread and Honeycomb. The numbers are small at less that 1.5% and things may get a little bit more challenging for those users in early 2017. Google has announced they will be discontinuing support for those platforms with the next release of Google Play Services. The minimum version, or API level, will jump from 9 to 14, which corresponds to the Ice Cream Sandwich release.

Android’s developers note that the Gingerbread platform is closing in on being six years old. They also note that most developers have likely dropped support for the platform already. With the Android team removing support, this will allow Google’s developers to focus on implementing features and tools more suited to current platforms.

Google’s Android developers recommend app developers change their code to specify a minimum API level of 14 when version 10.2.0 of Google Play Services is released. Once an app is published to the Play Store this new minimum requirement, those few users remaining on older platforms will no longer see the app or its updates as being available for their device.

If for some reason there is an app out there that still has a sizable user base on these older platforms, there is an option available to provide support for updates to these older devices. Developers can stay on Play Services 10.0.0 and then develop a separate APK that is compatible with this older version. If the developer also wants to incorporate features from Play Services 10.2.0 and onward, they will have to publish two separate versions of their app to the Play Store. Google also notes that developers will have to be mindful about what features and required libraries are used in these situations.

Along with the change to Play Services, this new minimum API level support will also be incorporated into Firebase, which is part of the platform used for storage of user-generated content like photos and videos.

source: Android Developers

About the Author: Jeff Causey

Raised in North Carolina, Jeff Causey is a licensed CPA in North Carolina. Jeff's past Android devices include an HTC EVO, a Samsung Note II, an LG G3, and a Motorola Moto X Pure Edition along with a Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1. He currently uses a Samsung Galaxy S8 and (very rarely) a Nexus 7 (2013). He is also using a Verizon-branded Motorola Moto Z Play Droid supplied by his job. Jeff used to have a pair of Google Glass and a Moto 360 Sport in his stable of gadgets. Unfortunately, his kids have all drunk the Apple Kool-Aid and have i-devices. Life at home often includes demonstrations of the superiority of his Android based devices. In his free time, Jeff is active an active runner usually training for his next marathon, owns a Mazda MX-5 Miata, and plays Dungeons & Dragons. Jeff has three grown kids and a golden retriever.