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Google to withhold certification of devices that feature older versions of Android

Google is said to be considering not certifying devices that ship with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean in order to fight ecosystem fragmentation.


Google is reportedly planning to deny certification to devices that ship with older versions of Android, according to a memo obtained by Android Police.

All devices that offer Google’s services like the Play Store, Gmail, Search and others, have to be certified individually by Google. The rumor states that Google will start withholding a device’s certification if it features an Android version that is two versions behind the current Android release.

For instance, the new rules mean that Google will not certify any new device that comes with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean. 4.1 Jelly Bean is API level 16, and there have been three new versions after that. Android 4.4 KitKat, the latest version of Android, is API level 19. Here is the leaked memo from the Android team detailing the changes:

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.)

Following the timeline, manufacturers will not be able to certify devices running Android 4.2 Jelly Bean after the 24th of April. 31st July is the deadline for devices running 4.3 Jelly Bean. Also, this means that any device with a chipset that doesn’t support new versions of Android will not be certified by Google, if the certification window for the older version of Android closes. However, that doesn’t meant that a device that has already been certified cannot be launched after the closure of the certification window.

Google will still approve new builds of an existing product that has been already approved in partner.android.com. This allows partners to provide updated security patches and critical bug fixes to Android users on previously shipped devices.

Currently, Google is known to launch two new versions of Android every year, but that could soon change if the new rules go into effect. The Android team also mentioned in the memo that access to new versions of Android would be made available to manufacturers faster so that they can integrate the software features better. With the recent sale of Motorola, it is clear that Google is starting to focus on software more, and is starting to assert more influence over the Android ecosystem.

SourceAndroid Police

Harish Jonnalagadda
Harish Jonnalagadda is an avid reader of science-fiction novels. A long-time Arsenal fan, his other interests include gaming, basketball and making music. He also likes tinkering with hardware in his free time.

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