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Google Play services will drop Android Gingerbread and Honeycomb support ‘in early 2017’


Google today announced that Google Play services 10.0.0 and Firebase 10.0.0 client libraries for Android will be the last versions to support Android API level 9 through API level 13. The next version of these libraries (10.2.0), slated for release “in early 2017,” will increase the minimum supported API level to 14, meaning Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich will be required. As a result, support for both Android 2.3 Gingerbread and Android 3.0/3.1/3.2 Honeycomb will be dropped next year.

Introduced in September 2012, Google Play services is Google’s background service and API package for Android. It’s the company’s way of delivering updates and improvements for its services to Android users without actually requiring an upgrade of the whole operating system.

According to the latest adoption figures, Gingerbread (first released in December 2010) is on 1.3 percent of devices with Google Play services. Honeycomb (first released February 2011) is on less than 0.1 percent of these devices. In other words, it’s really no surprise Google has decided it’s time to move on.

Indeed, here is the Android team’s explanation:

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.

To be clear, developers can continue to use version 10.0.0 of Google Play services and Firebase with Gingerbread and Honeycomb devices. Once you upgrade to version 10.2.0 or above, however, you will have to either target API level 14 as the minimum supported version or build multiple APKs to support devices with an API level less than 14. Given that Gingerbread and Honeycomb will continue to be slowly but surely phased out, the former is your best option.

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Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick