Google has announced that its Google Play services framework will stop support for Gingerbread and Honeycomb in early 2017. With its version update 10.2.0 next year, Google Play Services will support only those Android devices that run on at least Ice Cream Sandwich.
Google Play service is an API package for delivering updates and service improvements to Android users without upgrading the entire operating system. It was introduced in 2012, and supported all versions of Android including Gingerbread and Honeycomb. However, the current Google Play services version 10.0.0 will be the last to support the old operating systems. With the version 10.2.0 update slated for early 2017, Google Play Service will require a minimum support of Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich (i.e. minimum supported API level will increase from 9 to 14) at least.
Google reasons in its developer blog post, “The Gingerbread platform is almost six years old. Many Android developers have already discontinued support for Gingerbread in their apps. This helps them build better apps that make use of the newer capabilities of the Android platform. For us, the situation is the same. By making this change, we will be able to provide a more robust collection of tools for Android developers with greater speed.”
Google claims that most developers have stopped supporting Gingerbread in their apps, but for those who haven’t, it recommends API level 14 to be targeted as the minimum. Devices that run on Gingerbread and below will not get updates of apps that follow these guidelines.
For those apps that still have a significant number of users on Gingerbread, Google advices them to build multiple APKs to support those specific devices. However, this constitutes more work for the developer, and this decision is left on the app creator to make. If we look at the latest dashboard numbers, Gingerbread still runs on 1.3 percent of Android devices, much higher than the devices that run on Android 7.0 Nougat (0.3 percent).