Google is making it mandatory for smartphone makers to ship devices with Android 10 after January 31, 2020. The search giant will not approve software builds based on Android Pie after that date. Android 10 was released in September and smartphone makers are yet to release updates for most devices. The information regarding Google’s move was spotted in the latest version of Google’s GMS requirements. GMS stands for Google Mobile Services and it includes a suite of Google apps and services licensed by its OEM partners.
Google mandates Android 10 after January 31, 2020
The GMS suite is significant since it contains apps like the Google Play Store and Google Play Services. The lack of GMS means devices won’t come pre-installed with Google services. Huawei Mate 30 and Mate 30 Pro for instance lack GMS and do not offer Play Store. In order to preload GMS, Android smartphone makers must submit their software builds for each device to Google for approval. The approval process requires meeting the standards set in the Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) and GMS document.
The software must also pass automated test suites like the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), Vendor Test Suite (VTS) and Google Test Suite (GTS). The OEM/ODMs are thus required to submit their software for approval weeks or months in advance. The search giant wants OEMs to ship newer versions of Android and will not approve builds with GMS distributions based on older versions. According to XDA Developers, which spotted the new GMS requirements, Google will stop approving new devices running Android 9 Pie after January 31, 2020.
Android 9 Pie was released on August 6, 2018 and Google‘s partners had nearly a year and a half to release devices based on this version. The end of support for Android Pie doesn’t mean we will stop seeing devices based on this version. Smartphone makers might get approval for new devices based on Android Pie before the window closes on January 31, 2020. However, after this date, we might see a large number of devices launch with Android 10 out of the box. For devices not getting Android 10 update, Google will continue to approve new software builds based on Android Pie.
Google is expected to release Android 11 in August or September of next year and its release will result in end of support for Android Pie-based software builds. In the past, Google has supported older builds for longer duration and with Pie, it is changing the strategy. It has also extended the approval window for Android 8.1 Oreo (Go Edition). The Go Edition will be approved until October 31, 2019. The changes might result in Android devices getting updated to a newer version of Android faster but don’t hold your hopes high.