Google has announced that it will no longer support the Android 4.4 KitKat in new releases of Google Play Services after August 2023. KitKat, launched in October 2013, will lose support just shy of its 10th anniversary.
Google said that less than 1% of active Android devices still run on KitKat. As such, continuing to support the aging platform in Play Services requires increased developer time without significant user benefit.
Play Services allow Google to provide new features and regular updates to its apps and services on Android devices independently of OS updates. By dropping support for KitKat, future Play services releases after version 23.30.99 in August will no longer work on devices still running Android 4.4.
In a new blog post, Google stated:
The Android KitKat (KK) platform was first released ~10 years ago, and since then, we've introduced many innovative improvements and features for Android, which are unavailable on KK.
As of July 2023, the active device count on KK is below 1% as more and more users update to the latest Android versions. Therefore, we are no longer supporting KK in future releases of Google Play Services. KK devices will receive versions of the Play Services APK at 23.30.99.
The last time Google ended support for an old Android version was in 2021 with Jelly Bean, which launched in 2012. Like KitKat, Jelly Bean had dropped below 1% of active devices before support was discontinued.
KitKat was a major release for Android, introducing key features like immersive full-screen mode, cloud printing integration, and a "Google Now" page on the home screen. However, after nearly 10 years, Google prioritizes supporting more modern Android platforms that allow for more advanced features and security updates.
Users still on KitKat-based devices may consider upgrading to a newer Android phone or custom ROM to ensure continued access to the latest Google apps and services. Apps may also drop support for KitKat over time as Google Play Services no longer support the aging platform.