RIP: End of the road for Android Jelly Bean as Google drops Play Services updates in August

Android Jelly Bean… Remember it?

It’s been a while since the versions of Android that we also knew as Android 4.1, 4.2 and 4.3, were released. In fact, today marks exactly the 9th year since Android 4.1 was released.

You may not realize it but Android Jelly Bean brought with it updates that meant the world at that time and features that have evolved variously into what we know today.

Jelly Bean introduced Google Now, an information updates feed that expanded the Google Search functionality on Android devices, making it actively useful to users and anticipating their needs instead of waiting for them to initiate a search. Though retired in its original form, Google Now lives on in the Google Assistant and the discover feed accessible with a swipe to the left side on Pixel, Android One and other devices where the functionality hasn’t been replaced with an alternative from the device maker.

Android Jelly Bean also laid the building blocks of a buttery smooth experience on Android devoid of any lags and stutters with Project Butter.

It also introduced Android Beam, a feature, since deprecated, that allowed users to take advantage of the NFC chips on their devices to send data like video files to other devices and users nearby. There were also expandable notifications (with the two-finger downward swipe), lock screen widgets and more.

Since its release, Android has gone on to become bigger (with 3 billion active devices, it’s the most widely-used mobile operating system in the world) and better (it has undergone massive overhauls first with Android 5 Lollipop and, recently, with Android 12, which will be released in a few months).

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Where has that left Android Jelly Bean?

Well, according to Google, the dated operating system has fallen out of grace with users as they have moved on to newer versions of Android.

“… the active device count is below 1%,” writes Vikas Kansal, the product manager for Google Play Services.

“A very small percentage of all Android devices are using API levels less than 19. We believe that many of these old devices may not be actively being used.”

API level 19 is a reference to Android 4.4, popularly known as Android KitKat.

As such, Google is encouraging developers to start dropping support for Jelly Bean ahead of its own cut-off of Play Store updates at the end of August.

Version 21.30.99 of the Google Play Services app, scheduled for release at the end of August 2021, will be the last one made available to those still holding on to Android Jelly Bean-powered devices.

After August 2021, Android KitKat will be the earliest Android version supported by most apps accessible via the Google Play Store.

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