Google discontinues support for older Android versions

Currently, Android 11 is the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system. However, many smartphones and tablets still run with an older Android version. For one of them, however, the end is now imminent, because Google is discontinuing support.

In the early 2010s, there were usually still different versions of an Android version. Android Jelly Bean, for example, has the version numbers 4.1 to 4.3. Smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4 ran with this firmware. Google has now announced the end for this Android version.

Android Jelly Bean already 9 years old

Android Jelly Bean was introduced in 2012. Thus, the firmware is already nine years old and, according to Google, only runs on less than one percent of active Android devices. Nevertheless, Jelly Bean is still supported by Google Play Services, so the manufacturer’s own services still receive regular updates. But that is now over.

Google Play Services are background services and APIs (application programming interface) specially developed for Android devices. They are essential for the preinstalled Google apps like Maps, Play, Wallet and Fit. If they are outdated or faulty, the apps sometimes no longer function properly.

However, maintaining Google Play Services for a version as old as Jelly Bean is increasingly eating into developers’ capacities and time. This is because the earlier Android versions contain completely different functions compared to the more current ones and have to be handled differently accordingly. Google has therefore decided to stop supporting the Play services for Android Jelly Bean. There will be another update to version 21.30.99 at the end of August, but this will be the last one.

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What are the consequences of the end of support for Android Jelly Bean?

As already mentioned, only very few users should be affected by Google’s decision to discontinue support for Android Jelly Bean. But even those who still run a device with this old firmware version will not feel the consequences immediately. The Play services will continue to work initially. However, permanently missing updates will lead to restrictions in operation sooner or later. Some apps will probably no longer run properly in some time. There is even the possibility that users may no longer be able to use the Google Play Store.

Google advises all developers to optimize their apps to at least Android API level 9. This corresponds to version 4.4 Kitkat. However, apps that are optimized in this way will only run on devices with Android 4.4 or higher – a specification that users often find in the app details in the Play Store.

What can users do?

In the end, those affected will have no choice but to give up their old devices and switch to newer models. This is also important in terms of security updates. Android Jelly Bean is simply no longer up to date, so Google made the right decision to discontinue the version. Apple also only supports its old iPhones and iPads up to a certain level. Very old versions will eventually be removed from the update list.