Announced today, Google is finally killing off support for its most popular version of the Android operating system — Gingerbread (and Honeycomb, not so popular tablet-focused version of Android) in the now rolling out Google Play services 10.0.0 and Firebase 10.0.0 client libraries.
The tech behemoth is dropping support for this six-year-old version of its mobile OS because the user base of the same has diminished to a meager 1.3 percent. Also, a majority of Android developers “have already discontinued support for Gingerbread in their apps,” mentions Doug Stevenson, Developer Advocate at Google in the official 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 those unaware, Play Services is the core component of the Android operating system which provides functionalities like authentication to your Google services, synchronized contacts, access to privacy settings, handling app updates, and others. Google is taking a step in this direction to not only benefit the developers but also itself. The teams will now be able to better focus on extending on capabilities added in newer versions of Android. This will enable it to cut down on the extra code as they no longer need to worry about compatibility with older devices. Thus, providing a more robust collection of tools at greater speeds to its developers.
The next scheduled release of these libraries, version 10.2.0, will increase the minimum supported API level from 9 to 14 (Android 4.0.1, Ice Cream Sandwich),
states Stevenson in the blog post.
To put it simply, developers can still continue to use version 10.0.0 of Google Play services & Firebase to cater to the needs of Gingerbread and Honeycomb devices. But once you update to version 10.2.0, you’ll only be allowed to support API 14 as the minimum requirement for building your apps on the platform. Google is planning to introduce the said change in early 2017, which will slowly phase out the remaining user base of these devices.