Google has announced that support for the six year old Google Gingerbread and 5 year old Google Honeycomb builds will be ending early in 2017. The news came via an announcement about Google Play Service on the Android developer blog. In the announcement, Google said that in the next release of Google Play Services, version 10.2.0, the minimum API supported will be API 14 which is Ice Cream Sandwich. Previously API 9 was supported.
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.
For end users, what this means is that any device running Gingerbread or Honeycomb will no longer be supported which means that they will likely not have access to the Google Play Store or very limited access.
The news, frankly, is good news. One of the challenges facing Android today is not only the number of devices out there and manufactures not updating in a timely fashion, but also the number of
supported versions from Google. Unlike Apple on iOS and even Microsoft on Windows Phone, Google has supported ancient versions of their mobile operating system which doesn’t really give any incentive for manufactures to upgrade.
From a developer perspective, it cuts down on regression testing and other things you have to do to support old versions of Android. In fact, the ClintonFitch.com app for Android has not supported Gingerbread or Honeycomb since last year. This means that developers will be able to focus on more contemporary versions of Android and not have to troubleshoot issues on older versions from their users.