Google ends support for Android Ice Cream Sandwich, API levels 14 and 15

Google will end support for the Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) platform in future releases of Google Play services, the company announced in a Thursday blog post. The Google Play Store will no longer update Play Services APK beyond version 14.7.99 for devices running ICS, the post said.

This news likely won't affect many developers: ICS is seven years old, and fewer than 1% of active devices still run on the platform, the post said.

The functionality required by the current released Google Play services SDK versions is already available on ICS devices, and will continue to work. Thanks to SDK version changes announced in May, each library can be independently released, and may update its own minSdkVersion. Individual libraries do not need to change based on support ending, according to the post.

SEE: Hiring kit: Android developer (Tech Pro Research)

Newer SDK components can support API levels 14 and 15, but many will update to require the higher API level, the post said. If your application supports API level 16 or beyond, you will not need to make any changes to your build. If you have applications that support levels 14 or 15, you can still build and publish your app to devices running ICS, but you will get a build error when updating to newer SDK version, according to the post.

Google recommends targeting API level 16 as the minimum supported level to use the newer SDK. To discontinue support for API levels that will no longer be updated, developers can increase the minSdkVersion value in an app's build.gradle to at least 16.

"If you update your app in this way and publish it to the Play Store, users of devices with less than that level of support will not be able to see or download the update," the post said. "However, they will still be able to download and use the most recently published version of the app that does target their device."

Very few Android devices are still using API levels under 16; the largest amount (28%) are now using a version of Nougat, API level 24 or 25. But if your app still does have a large number of users on older devices, you can build multiple APKs to support those devices, the post said. You can find instructions to do so here.

The big takeaways for tech leaders:

Also see