A new report has claimed that Google might be planning to force Android OEMs to provide the latest versions of the OS in order to access Google Mobile Services.
The folks over at Android Police received information about Google's alleged plans from multiple sources. It is claimed that Google will enforce the requirement of a minimum API level on new devices if the manufacturer wants to have access to Google services such as Google Apps and Play Store.
According to the website, certain Android OEMs have been provided with deadlines for the certification process which can be seen below.
The changes would not make a big difference for bigger Android OEMs and is probably put in place to prevent inconsistent performance in low-end Androids, which ship with older Android versions with under-powered hardware. Unfortunately this does't mean that users who purchase an Android device with a slightly older version of the OS will be guaranteed updates, as it is just a certification for devices that will be launched.
Google has been trying to reduce fragmentation in Android for a long time, but due to manufacturers who keep releasing smartphones with OS versions as old as Gingerbread (2.3) the developers need to allocate resources in supporting them. The alleged policy, could prove to be helpful in reducing this to a large extent.
Source: Android Police | Image via Android Police