A quick glance at the latest Android platform distribution figures from Google shows that there are under 3% of Android users still running operating system versions from 2011 and before which is quite unfortunate given the advancements the platform has made culminating in the latest version, Nougat.
1.3% of those still run on Android version 2.3, codenamed Gingerbread, software that debuted 6 years ago. That’s an awful lot of time and Google may be forgiven for emphasising that app developers no longer focus on it starting next year.
The latest version of Google Play Services, 10.0.0, is the last one to support Android Gingerbread. According to Google, Android 4.0.1 Ice Cream Sandwich will be the earliest version of Android to be supported when Google Play Services receives another update early next year.
As such, Google is urging app developers to make the appropriate changes and drop support for the older version of Android in readiness for the impending axe.
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.
Google Play Services is the background service that Google uses to update its apps and services across the board regardless of the version of Android running on a device. This means that the company is able to continuously provide key updates to its wide base of services without necessarily having to include them in the periodic firmware updates that may never get to the intended devices anyway since those charged with doing so (device makers and their partners, network operators) do such a shoddy job.
Look at it this way: if Google Play Services did not exist, you may have had to wait until you received an update from your device maker bringing your device to the latest version of Android in order to get a new version of preloaded Google apps like Maps, something that wasn’t unheard of circa 2012 when Play Services came into the picture.