Google is killing off further work and security patches for Chrome on Android 4.0, known as Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), which it released in 2011.
Google has announced that Chrome version 42 will be the last update it delivers for Android ICS. That version of Android was the first to see Chrome run on mobile devices. It laid the groundwork for Chrome to replace the older Android browser as the default for the Google OS, which happened with the release of KitKat in 2013.
According to Google, the company was spending too much time working on software for a version of Android that's dwindling in popularity.
"In the last year, we've seen the number of Chrome users running ICS drop by thirty percent," Aurimas Lutikas, a Google software engineer, explained in a blog post.
"Developing new features on older phones has become increasingly challenging, and supporting ICS takes time away from building new experiences on the devices owned by the vast majority of our users."
ICS was released in late 2011, but according to Google's Android distribution figures, still accounts for 5.9 percent of the roughly one billion Android devices that accessed the Google Play Store between early late February to early March. While ICS numbers may be declining, the OS is still used by twice as many devices as Lollipop, the most recent Android version.
Chrome is currently on version 40, so users have a few months to consider whether the upcoming end of support for the browser means it's time to retire their ICS device.
Google notes in its FAQ that it will continue providing security updates to Chrome as long as Chrome 42 is the most current version. After that, users can continue to use Chrome but development will be frozen with whatever bugs are in there.
Google expects to ship Chrome 42 in mid-April and for Chrome 43 to arrive in late May.
The lack of updates for Chrome on ICS will make it a less secure alternative to the built-in Android browser that shipped with Android 4.3 and below. After Google stopped building patches for WebView in Android 4.3 and below, it recommended users switch to Chrome or Firefox. Firefox, however, still supports Android 2.3 and above.
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