Great news! Google reportedly forcing OEMs to use newer Android versions

12 February 2014, 8:12 am EST By Alexandra Burlacu Mobile & Apps

Google is reportedly pushing OEMs to use more recent versions of Android for their devices if they want Google Play support.

In an apparent bid to gain more control over its popular operating system, Google is now taking more steps to ensure newer versions of Android are being used. While Android is currently the most popular operating system, its fragmentation is a well-known issue and Google is making efforts to reduce it.

Just last month, news emerged that Google urged Samsung to tone down its custom Android user interface (UI) and apps, leaving more room for Android. It now looks like the company is moving a step forward with its Android push.

According to a new report from Android Police, Google is pressuring OEMs to use newer versions of Android, if not the latest version, on their new devices. Google's new policy reportedly states that in order to qualify for Google Mobile Services (GMS), aka Google Apps, OEMs should preload the most recent version of Android out of the box on new devices.

If this report proves to be accurate, Google will no longer authorize devices running OS versions older than Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Android Police points out that OEMs will no longer be allowed to launch devices running Android 4.2 after April 2014, or devices running Android 4.3 after July 2014.

"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 none months to get new products on the latest platform after its public release)," reads a purported memo cited in the report.

While OEMs may not be very pleased with Google's decision to force their hand into using newer versions of Android, this move should considerably help reduce Android fragmentation. Mid-tier and high-end devices already ship with recent versions of Android, but low-end, budget handsets are usually a few OS versions behind. With this new policy, low-end device makers will have to come up with devices past Ice Cream Sandwich if they want Google Play support, which would greatly benefit end users. 

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