Only Android 10 phones will get Google approval starting February 1st, 2020

“Google apps, testing suites, libraries etc won’t be approved for devices running Android Pie starting February 1st, 2020”

Google will reportedly stop approving new Android smartphones that do not ship with Android 10 pre-installed after January 31st, 2020. A report by XDA Developers, citing the latest version of Google’s GMS (Google Mobile Services) requirements for OEMs, claims that the search giant will stop issuing approvals required by OEMs to run Google apps on Android devices if the devices do not run the latest version of Android, i.e Android 10. This means that newer devices may release with Android Pie even after February 1st, provided the manufacturer applies for the approval by January 31st. After that, though, all devices must be powered by Android 10 to gain Google’s approval.

As for devices that are not going to get Android 10, Google will allow vendors to seed Android 9 Pie-based software updates for them but only until Android 11 is released. The Android 11 release is not expected till the second half of 2020, likely in August.

The reason why getting Google’s approval for GMS is important because of how essential it is to the entire Android framework. The GMS setup consists of Google apps as well as native libraries and services, which are essential for elements such as Google Play Services to run on any phone. The move is one of Google’s latest initiatives to push its network of OEMs to update their devices more frequently, in a bit to solve the massively fragmented Android ecosystem that creates all sorts of issues for Google.

With the diverse range of OEMs making phones with Android, the Android ecosystem is extremely fragmented. As a result of this, there are still devices in the Android ecosystem that run on Android versions like Jelly Bean (v4.1) and KitKat (v4.4), released seven and six years ago, respectively. This creates a rather significant security headache for Google, since discontinued operating system versions never get the latest security patches, and as a result, become obvious prey for cybercriminals.

With its new initiative, Google will hope to have a better control on how frequently do its OEM vendors update their devices. Forcing them to get approval with the latest version of Android would improve the rate of adoption of the latest Android version, which in turn would help Google have closer control on how frequently all Android devices are updated, thereby improving the overall standards of security on Android devices.