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New smartphones must have the latest version of Android, says Google

Chris Martin | Feb. 19, 2014
Google set to crack the whip following slow KitKat adoption.

Android OS

A leaked document suggests that Google is going to force smartphone makers to use the latest version of Android.

Google's Android mobile operating system has come under criticism for the slow uptake of new versions. With the latest version, 4.4 KitKat, only on 1.8 percent of devices things are about to get shaken up.

The online search giant is going to crack the whip with its manufacturing partners to ensure new devices launch with the latest edition of Android. 

Android adoption market share
Pie chart depicting the most popular version of Android used by smartphone makers. Click on pie chart to enlarge.

Mobile Bloom says that a leaked document states that Google wants smartphone makers including HTC, Samsung, Motorola, ZTE and LG to abide by a simple rule: 'if you develop a smartphone that has access to the Google Services Framework and Google Play Store, it must be running the most recent version of Android'.

The document is thought to have been sent to at least one major Android OEM (original equipment manufacturer) from the Android team.

It said: "Starting February 2014, Google will no longer approve GMS distribution on new Android products that ship older platform releases. 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 nine months to get new products on the latest platform after its public release.)"

It can be easy to assume that a new smartphone or tablet will have the latest version of Android when it is launch but this is not always the case. For example, Sony announced the Xperia Z1 Compact at CES in January but it comes with Android 4.3 Jelly Bean instead of 4.4 KitKat.

The most popular version of Android is currently 4.1 Jelly Bean which is found on 35.5 percent of devices.


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