Rumor: Google to force OEMs to use recent versions of Android on new handsets

By on February 11, 2014, 1:15 PM
google, android, oems

Just last month it was reported that Google forced Samsung to dial back its custom Android UI and homegrown apps. Now it seems the company wants even more control over its popular mobile operating system. If rumours are to be believed, the search giant is pressurising OEMs to use the latest version of Android on new devices.

According to an Android Police report, Google has formulated a new policy which says that if an OEM wants to qualify for Google Mobile Services (GMS) -- aka Google Apps -- they should install the up-to-date version of Android out of the box. 

If true then starting this month, Google will no longer authorize devices running versions older than Android 4.2. The report also states that OEMs will not be allowed to release devices running Android 4.2 after April 2014, and the same goes for Android 4.3 after July 2014.

According to an alleged memo cited by the report: “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.)”

While OEMs may not be very happy with the decision, consumers will be delighted as they'll quickly get their hands on the latest versions of Android. Specifically, the decision may not affect mid and high-end device manufacturers, who usually do not ship a device more than 2 versions behind the current Android release, but would affect low-end device manufacturers because if an OEM wishes to launch a budget mobile with Google Play Support, they'll have to do finer than Gingerbread or ICS.




User Comments: 9

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Skidmarksdeluxe Skidmarksdeluxe said:

This shouldn't be a problem for the consumer as the article correctly states and hopefully upgrading the OS on an older device should't take so long. By the time my S3 gets upgraded to Kit Kat, Key Lime Pie will be obsolete but that's Samsung's fault, they always drag their feet when it comes to rolling out new OS's.

1 person liked this | Nobina Nobina said:

I agree with Google here, Android is the best when it's stock and latest version and OEMs should keep phones up do date. However, if they let Android be open source, they should let OEMs do what they want with it, so I'm kinda both sided on this one.

Spykezxp Spykezxp said:

Bare in mind that its not just the Manufacture's fault for getting the latest OS out, but also the Carriers (depending on what Carrier company you use - example for United States is AT&T or Verizon). I have been using Samsung Devices for many years now and I've noticed that it takes anywhere between 6 months to a year and a half to get the latest updated OS sometimes. The Manufacture does their changes, then they pass is on to the Carriers and they make their changes and finally it gets released. I ditched waiting for updates a long time ago, because I root every device I can and put a Custom ROM on them. This will make the Carriers upset also, but we the "Consumers" will be happier. Good job Google for listening to the Consumers and setting up these Rules and Guidelines.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Here's how I see it...don't know if it can be done this way, but I'll say it anyway: OEMs and carriers release the stock version as soon as Google makes it available to them. From here, they can then work their magic with their custom UI and then offer it as an "optional update" to any who want it.

This keeps Android open source for the OEMs and carriers to do with it what they want and it also let's people run the latest version of Android and then have a choice between stock and skinned. It's a win-win. Especially since it will...hopefully...get the OEMs and Carriers working more quickly to get their UI out and onto the phone before Google sends another update.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I agree with Google here, Android is the best when it's stock and latest version and OEMs should keep phones up do date. However, if they let Android be open source, they should let OEMs do what they want with it, so I'm kinda both sided on this one.
I agree. The open source policy should keep them from gaining such control. The only way for them to gain control over their OS, would be to drop the open source policy. Google just needs to figure out which direction, they want to go on this two way road. There are no shades of gray in open source.

Guest said:

I agree with Google here, Android is the best when it's stock and latest version and OEMs should keep phones up do date. However, if they let Android be open source, they should let OEMs do what they want with it, so I'm kinda both sided on this one.

I agree. The open source policy should keep them from gaining such control. The only way for them to gain control over their OS, would be to drop the open source policy. Google just needs to figure out which direction, they want to go on this two way road. There are no shades of gray in open source.

Android IS fully open-source and everyone can modify it as they seem fit, without any supervision by Google. That's not the part OEMs concern themselves with. The part they are concerned about is the Google Play services, which is very clearly stated by Google not to be open source, and that's the most important part. They can make whatever use of Android they want, but if they want Google services, they need to follow some Google guidelines.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

They can make whatever use of Android they want, but if they want Google services, they need to follow some Google guidelines.
OK, that makes sense.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Guest

The real benefactor here is Google which makes hordes of money through their GMS, hence, the open source mantra doesn't stick much beyond the base OS (which is not of much use at its own for OEMs).

If you dissect Android makers, the fact is it is precariously placed on success of only one major OEM, rest of them are just surviving (and also the fact that they make money only once, at the time of unit sale). Whereas, Google continue to reap profits throughout the life span of these devices. This model doesn't have legs to go on forever IMHO. At some time in future, simply bumping up hardware specs will become lot less meaningful and they will have to come back to software + services. I believe that is the reason Samsung is continuing to invest in Tizen along with Intel.

So, how far can Google push these OEMs in this context will be dependent on how much hit they are willing to take into their profits (by investing more into development of their own brand of android at a much rapid pace, which may also means bringing in more software engineers).

Emexrulsier said:

To be fair I think a lot of budget OEMs are already doing this. I bought a cheap £35 tablet (Allwinner) last month and this was pre installed with JellyBean I then had another (sumvision) which though came with ICS soon after release there was a jellybean update.

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