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Ice Cream Sandwich rides into sunset as Google raises API levels

The news comes seven years after Google first launched its influential Android update.

Published onDecember 7, 2018

The back of the Galaxy Nexus.
The Galaxy Nexus was the first phone with Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • Google has confirmed that it’s ending support for Play Store Services on Ice Cream Sandwich.
  • The change means app developers need to target Android 4.1 as the oldest supported version of Android.
  • Consumers will be unable to see or download an app that solely targets Android 4.1 and up.

Ice Cream Sandwich was one of the most important Android updates in the platform’s history, but it’s long past its sell-by date. Now, Google has confirmed that it is discontinuing Play Services updates for API levels 14 and 15 (corresponding with Ice Cream Sandwich).

The company noted that Ice Cream Sandwich was released seven years ago, and now accounts for less than one percent of all active Android devices.

“Consequently, we are deprecating support for ICS in future releases of Google Play services. For devices running ICS, the Google Play Store will no longer update Play Services APK beyond version 14.7.99,” the company wrote on its developer blog.

The change means that developers will need to target API level 16 (Android 4.1) as the new minimum level for their app. However, developers can also build multiple APKs, with one supporting Ice Cream Sandwich and the other supporting a newer API level, if they really want to keep supporting the old version of Android.

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What does this mean for consumers, though? Well, Google confirms that Ice Cream Sandwich users will be unable to see or download an app update that targets the new minimum API level (Android 4.1). However, they will still be able to download the most recent update that targeted their device. But you should still see the latest updates if the developer in question chooses to publish multiple APKs, as outlined in the previous paragraph.

Ice Cream Sandwich delivered a host of features, including the Holo visual theme, virtual navigation keys on smartphones, screen capture, rudimentary face unlock, and mobile data tracking.

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