Google to stop patching Chrome for 60M Android users this May

Google is deprecating Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) support for Chrome with the final update expected to arrive in April and no more security patches from mid-May.

The roughly 60 million owners of devices running Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS) have about three months to upgrade to a newer OS if they want to avoid running outdated versions of Chrome — one of the most important apps in Android.

Chrome 42, two versions after the current latest version, will be the last version of Chrome Google delivers for Android Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS), Google confirmed today.

ICS was released in late 2011 and has since been superseded by Jelly Bean, KitKat and Lollipop.

Explaining the decision, Google software engineer Aurimas Lutikas said that supporting ICS was detracting from its other work on Chrome, adding that the ICS user base had declined significantly.

“In the last year, we’ve seen the number of Chrome users running ICS drop by thirty percent. 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,” .

Google expects Chrome 42 to ship around mid-April and following that, and will keep providing patches up until Chrome 43 is released around mid-May.

“We will continue to issue patches while Chrome 42 is the most recent Chrome version. Once Chrome 43 is released, we don’t plan to issue further updates for ICS devices,” Google explained in an FAQ.

Currently there are over one billion active Android smartphones. According to Google’s March version-distribution for Android, ICS represents 5.9 percent of the total. That makes the version small by comparison to Jelly Bean, which accounts for 44 percent, and KitKat, which accounts for 40.9 percent. Lollipop, the newest version of Android accounts for 3.3 percent.

While ICS’ usage is likely to decline further by May, today’s 5.9 percent share would mean there are 59 million ICS devices still in use.

Somewhat oddly, Google is supporting ICS in its new Android for Work program via the Android for Work App (which is also available for Jelly Bean and Kit Kat devices).

Deprecating ICS for Chrome also removes one of the key recommendations Google had for users after it announced it would stop developing security patches for WebView in Android 4.3 and below.

WebView powers the stock Android browser in Android 4.3 and below (with KitKat, Chrome became the default browser). In January, a senior Google Android engineer advised users on these older versions to use either Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox browser.

Come May, ICS users will have just Firefox as the sole recommended browser.

This article is brought to you by Enex TestLab, content directors for CSO Australia.

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Tags VulnerabilitiesGooglechromeupdatesjelly beanAndroid 4.3KitKatCSO AustraliaLollipopWebViewAurimas LutikasAndroid usersAndroid Ice Cream Sandwich (ICS)

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