Leaked document points to Google pushing KitKat for new phones

Yesterday, we flagged up the launch of the LG L Series III, mentioning that, rather surprisingly, all models in that low-end range came with Android KitKat pre-installed. There could be a reason for that.

The Mobile Bloom site is pointing to a leaked document from Google which is demanding that all new Android smartphones come with Android 4.4 KitKat pre-installed. That's regardless of their build. Anything from budget through to premium will have the same OS.

That was pretty much the point of Android KitKat, an operating system that was flexible enough to work on all phones. It gave Google the opportunity to level the playing field for once. But things haven't worked out that way yet. New budget and mid-range phones are still hitting the shelves with an older version of Android. Indeed, we are seeing more non-premium devices land with Jelly Bean than KitKat right now.

The leaked document was apparently sent by the Android team at Google to at least one major Android partner. It stated: 'Starting February 2014, Google will no longer approve GMS distribution on new Android products that ship older platform releases. Each platform release will have a 'GMS approval window' that typically closes nine months after the next Android platform release is publicly available.'

No Google Mobile Services (GMS) approval would mean no core Google apps like Maps, Hangouts and Google Now. It could mean no access to Google Play. In other words, for most makers, it would seriously restrict what an Android phone could offer.

It seems like a reasonable policy, although it would add costs to the manufacture of new smartphones in the short term, possibly with additional testing. The alternative is to find another platform. But alternatives to Android that appeal to the buying public are pretty thin on the ground.

Sources: Mobile Bloom and Pocket Lint

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