Google is rolling out as many new features as possible via Play Services updates and app updates.They’re splitting out more and more apps from the Android operating system, making them available in Google Play so every device can update to them.
Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Keyboard, Hangouts, Chrome, Google Maps, Drive, You Tube, Keep, Google , the Google search app — these are all apps that update regularly from Google Play and can be installed on older devices.
On Apple’s i OS, an update to a system app like Mail, Calendar, Messages, or Safari would require a completely new version of the i OS operating system.
This is Google’s real plan for battling Android fragmentation: Update as much of the operating system and its apps as possible without going through device manufacturers or carriers.
Older devices aren’t as outdated as they used to be. For example, when Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich came out, it brought an entirely redesigned interface, performance improvements, and even APIs limited to Android 4.0.
Certain things still require operating system updates.
Operating system-level features like multiple user accounts, memory usage reductions, or support for new hardware standards like Bluetooth 4.0 can’t be rolled out in the background.
These updates affect devices all the way back to Android 2.3 Gingerbread and 2.2 Froyo, released in 2010.
For example, Google has added the Android Device Manager device-tracking feature to nearly all Android devices thanks to a Google Play Services update.
You can still use all the latest apps because Google has given you the latest APIs.
Nevermind the version numbers — Android fragmentation is improving.
Google has also split more and more apps out of Android, releasing them as apps in the Play Store.