The Google Play Services library is available on all Google Certified Android devices. It is required for the Google Play Store and dozens of APIs that can be used by third-party applications.
Google Play Services is also used to add new features to older versions of Android, as was the case with Nearby Share recently added to Android 6.0+ devices. Soon, older Android phones and tablets will no longer receive updates from Google Play Services.
Google announced in a blog post that the company will no longer update Google Play Services to Android Jelly Bean 4.1–4.3 (API levels 16, 17, and 18). Google says the company is making this decision because Jelly Bean now has less than 1% of active Android users. The final release for devices with Jelly Bean will be Google Play Services v21.30.99, which is expected to be released in late August. The current version of the application is 24.24.18.
Developers using the Google Play Services SDK in their applications are advised to use API level 19 (Android 4.4 KitKat) to avoid issues. Developers can also compile multiple APKs, each containing a separate version of the Play Services library, if they need to support Jelly Bean devices.
Android 4.1 Jelly Bean released in July 2012 with features like expandable notifications, USB audio, and a smoother interface. Android 4.2 came out in November 2012 with improvements to the lock screen and support for multiple user accounts, while Android 4.3 was released in July 2013 with Bluetooth LE and a redesigned camera app.
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