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Google plans to force all new Android phones to run KitKat

All new Android phones will have to launch with Android 4.4 KitKat or later in the future, according to a leaked memo from Google HQ.

The memo was reportedly sent from Google’s Android team to Android phone manufacturers recently, stating plans to make KitKat the bare minimum for new phones. The memo supposedly reads;

“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.”

GMS is Google Mobile Services, which is essentially the Google apps bundle including Maps, Hangouts, Gmail and the Play Store. Essentially what Google is saying here is: “Use KitKat or we won’t let you use our big name apps” – quite the ultimatum. Some entry level phone and tablet manufacturers have in the past foregone GMS, including the likes of Arnova, who provide a third party bundle of apps including a store such as AppsLibrary to replace Google’s standard offerings.

The company’s latest Android version has been specifically designed to hog less RAM, making it more suitable for use on entry-level and mid-range phones as well as the super-capable flagship models. The idea is to stop the fragmentation of Android and bring all types of device up to the same level.

Right now the Android market is made up of everything from Android 2.1 all the way through to 4.4, which is a lot of different versions. Currently Jelly Bean is the most used version, accounting for 35.5% of all devices, but then version 2.3 Gingerbread is the second most used version with a 20% share. If Google could get everyone on board with one OS version going forward that worked well on all manner of devices, it sure would be nice and simple, so we can see why Google might speak to its manufacturers in this way.

With that said, we’re sure that many manufacturers who do well with affordable devices which run Android 2.3 in developing countries will be shocked by the decision and no doubt there will be many changes to be made. With Google I/O coming up in a few months we’re hoping to hear more about the future of Android in due course.

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