You know that Android Versions dashboard? It matters less and less for developers. And it’s been irritating me for months now that the mobile-device commentariat apparently hasn’t noticed. I’m hoping today’s news will help make my point.
Let’s look at some recent history.
December 2012 · Google Play services release 2 brought major Maps-API improvements to apps on all compatible devices back to 2.2.
February 26, 2013 · Release 3 of Google Play services brought a major revamp of the Google+ API to apps on all compatible devices back to 2.2.
How It Works · Google Play services is an APK, an Android app that can be released several times a year (look at that history) and be pushed to all those compatible devices via Play. To an immensely huge number of handsets and tablets in a remarkably short period of time.
Inside that APK are all the new goodies: So far, OAuth, Maps, and Google+. To use them, Android developers fetch a little library from the SDK Manager and make calls through it to the code in the Play services APK.
And their code will run on all compatible devices back to 2.2.
That Rhythm · New software goodies for Android no longer have to be packaged in blasts named after desserts that take years to build market share. They’ve been coming out in regular releases of Google Play services, (pardon me, I’m going to say it again) available on all compatible devices back to 2.2.
And this happens without needing any support effort from telephone companies or device makers.
Dear Mobile-Industry Experts · Yeah, if what you care about is new smoother glass and slicker chips and faster broadband, you’re still on the dessert schedule. But if what matters is what apps can do, you can pretty well ignore that Versions dashboard.