An older version of Chrome (and OMG! Chrome!) running on ICS

Chrome for Android is to stop supporting Android 4.0 ‘Ice Cream Sandwich’ from April and the release of Chrome 42, Google has announced.

Mobile and tablet users using this older version of Android will, as seen on other operating systems that Chrome no longer supports, still be able to use Chrome but the browser won’t be updated to newer versions thereafter.

The Chromium team will offer security updates to Chrome 42 on 4.0 for a short period but these too will stop once Chrome 43 hits the Play Store.

For as long as Chrome is left visible to ICS users browsing Google Play the browser (albeit frozen on v42) will be available to install. It’s unclear for how long Google will do this, however.

Appetite for Progress

As frosty a reception as this news may get in some quarters it isn’t without reason. Google say just 6 percent of Android users are still using Android 4.0 and that this is down 30 percent over the past year.

“The number of ICS devices is now sufficiently small that we can better serve our users by phasing out support for earlier devices and focusing on making Chrome better for the vast majority of users on more modern devices,” the Chromium development team explains in a deprecation FAQ accompanying the news.

‘Google has seen ICS usage drop by thirty percent over the past year’

“Often workarounds and special cases have to be added specifically for ICS, and that adds code complexity, slows performance, and increases development time.”

Google Chrome for Android launched in 2011, the same year as ICS, and has only ever been compatible with devices running version 4.0 or later.

The majority of Android devices — over 80 percent in all — still run a version of Android that is compatible with Chrome (e.g., Jelly Bean, KitKat or Lollipop).

The number of people who will be affected by today’s news is therefore low and could be possibly even lower by next month as Google has seen ICS usage drop by thirty percent over the past year.

Other web browsers, like Mozilla Firefox or Opera Software’s Opera Mobile, may continue to support Android 4.0.

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