Long time Android users will remember how much of leap forward Ice Cream Sandwich 4.0 (ICS) was for the platform in 2011. As the vastly improved successor to Android 2.3 Gingerbread, it was one of the largest upgrades to Android OS in history, creating a demarcation line between the much older versions and the newer ones that would follow. (Android OS versions are released in alphabetical order under sugary treat code names.)
ICS came with a completely redesigned UI and the new Roboto typeface. It introduced a new voice input engine and a ton of new media capabilities. The 4.0 version added more intuitive gestures and allowed app developers to make use of them, too. Android developers often refer to the ICS release as a pivotal point in the platform’s development, given how much changed.
WordPress for Android Mobile App to Drop Gingerbread Support
The WordPress for Android development team announced today that it will no longer support Gingerbread.
Despite the fact that ICS was released in 2011, many people are still using devices that don’t support anything past Gingerbread. In an effort to reach the largest number of users, the WordPress app has maintained compatibility with older versions, incurring a ton of extra development time.
Recent numbers showing the relative number of devices on various Android platform versions puts Gingerbread at about 16% this month, down 1% from April:
The cost of supporting Gingerbread for a small portion of the WordPress app’s user base (which is actually less than 10%) causes the everyone else to suffer what they are calling the “Gingerbread tax” while waiting for new features:
This means over 90% of our users are paying a “Gingerbread tax” – waiting longer for new versions and not seeing features that take advantage of their phones – so that we can continue supporting older devices.
The upcoming version 2.9 of WordPress for Android will only support devices running Android 4.0 or later, allowing its developers to be more productive. The app itself will also become faster and smaller for the majority of people who are using it.
Please note that it doesn’t mean that the app is disappearing for these devices. An older version will still be available from the Google Play store for use with older phones and tablets that are still running on Gingerbread.
Gingerbread support will officially be dropped later this month when WordPress for Android 2.9 is expected to be released. This version will also include a new Blog Discovery feature for finding blogs based on recommendation as well the ability to preview a blog’s posts before electing to follow. Subscription management will also be included, along with a number of helpful UI improvements.