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I am wondering if there is a schedule for Android versions or devices to reach end of life some day? The term end of life refers to a state when developers decide to stop supporting a certain software version with updates. I was reading a related article on androidcentral.

So, currently Android 4.x is pretty common and rumors say 5.0 might come out in may, are there any end of life plans for any 2.x versions? I got a HTC Wildfire S with Android 2.3 and a Toshiba AC100 with Android 2.1. (Is the support bound to major version numbers or rather to devices?)


Update: I never asked at any point for speculations. I'm a software engineer and used to end-of-life or end-of-support plans. I'm am new to Android and I noticed my devices are equipped with pretty old versions, according to the link in the first comment: 3 years old, which is a pretty long term in a software life cycle (for example normal Ubuntu releases got only 18 months lifetime).

Is the support bound to major version numbers or rather to devices? Are there any end-of-life plans for Android or does that just happen if some version or devices does not get enough attention on the mobile markets? My research on this topic was not very effective. That's why I'm asking the community.

I've got no intention to seed rumors or speculations. A "no" would be a valid (but poor) answer.

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Sure there will be an "end-of-life" for each version at some point. The German Wikipedia shows a list of Android versions, color-highlighting which ones are already unsupported. To my knowledge, the end-of-life date is not announced when the corresponding version is released -- and this site is not about speculations :) –  Izzy Mar 16 '13 at 21:00
    
Is that a "no"? I've updated my question and I know that software some day will reach end of life of course, but that was not my question. I was rather looking for resources on plans, schedules, etc. –  vertoe Mar 16 '13 at 23:09
    
I didn't put it as an answer as I have no definite reference. I don't know of any source pointing to facts here. The only one I've found so far is above mentioned wiki page, stating which versions are no longer supported at this moment. Btw: I didn't want to imply you were going for speculations -- I just wanted to state I don't want to speculate. Apologies if you felt offended, that was not my intention! –  Izzy Mar 16 '13 at 23:17
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2 Answers 2

This is marginally unanswerable. There certainly is no specific decision available regarding devices -> Google has an internal maximum, but updates are mostly done by manufacturers, for instance Samsung or HTC. Low-end devices will receive much less (if any at all) updates from their manufacturer.

High end devices will be able to run run new versions much longer, and if you take into account that you can put custom roms on the devices it's a complete open field.

So while the linked quote by @qdoe gives some rule of thumb for Google's idea about support, I'd not look too hard at it. It's a combination of manufacturer and devices specifications and what the user does: just like other hardware.

Now for devices vs versions this is also tricky: while we have devices that might-or-might-not be end-of-life in terms of support/updates that get there automatically, there is something as major versions. At a certain point one version (say 2.x) isn't being updated to x+1, but there's no specific reason that you can't update to 4, apart from limitations on device etc. So while a major version might be 'end-of-life', this has no specific meaning.

In the end it all hangs on why you want this information. You say you are a software-engineer, so I suppose you are releasing android apps? Your best course of action then is to always develop with the latest (4.3 currently) SDK version as target, with the MINIMUM set quite a bit lower (as low as you can without losing functionality). Most of the functionality is available backward-compatible through the support-SDK's, so you could as a for instance use fragments if you want in a min. 2.x supported app. I would step away from the "this is for version x, I need to know the lifetime" frame of mind.

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up vote -1 down vote accepted

For android devices the answer is: 18 months is the maximum supported lifetime.

I found this in the Google Android FAQ. It is said that the 2 year old Galaxy Nexus does not recieve an Update to Android 4.4 "KitKat":

Galaxy Nexus, which first launched two years ago, falls outside of the 18-month update window when Google and others traditionally update devices.

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That's qualified with "traditionally". Cyanogenmod supports devices older than 18 months, and they'd fall into the "others" category. The ZTE Blade, for example, now runs Android 4.x thanks to them. I wouldn't bother wasting time looking for hard and fast rules, because there aren't any. It's an open platform supported by many different manufacturers and developers. –  Poldie Nov 3 '13 at 12:54
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