However, Google has managed to perform an end-run around the carriers and manufacturers slowing things down and release updates for nearly all Android devices.If your device has the Play Store, Google is updating it.
When a manufacturer wants to release an Android device, they have to negotiate an agreement with Google to get the Google Play Store and Google apps on their devices.
As part of this agreement, Google reserves the right to update the Google Play Services component of Android on their own.
Certain apps wouldn’t run on devices without Android 4.0.
Google Chrome required Android 4.0, so devices that were never upgraded from Android 2.3 Gingerbread still can’t use Google Chrome today. Android 4.1 was also extremely important, making the interface much more smooth and less laggy with “Project Butter.” Compared to Android 4.0 and Android 4.1, the most recent versions of Android are minor updates.
This component automatically updates in the background on your Android device, and there’s no way for you — or the device’s manufacturer — to stop this from occurring.
Google has been adding quite a few features to Android through Google Play Services.
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.
Android 4.4 is the biggest update, bringing significantly reduced memory usage — but, if you have a device that came with a recent version of Android, it probably already runs well and these memory reductions are only nice to have.
Google is updating Android without actually updating the Android operating system.
These user-facing features were added to the Android operating system via a Play Services update without any interference from device manufacturers or carriers.