Below is the email that was sent out from Salesforce:
As an admin of a Salesforce org, we want to notify you of an important change to the support of Salesforce1 for Android, which your organization has used in the last month.
What is changing?
With our Winter ‘16 release*, Salesforce will no longer support the Android 4.3 operating system (OS) or below for the Salesforce1 application. While you will still be able to use those operating systems with your current version of Salesforce1, support for technical or product issues will no longer be provided by Salesforce and no further development will take place. This means that users will only get Salesforce1 upgrades if they are using Android OS 4.4 or higher, which is a requirement for the latest version of Salesforce1. As a reminder, Android tablets will remain unsupported.
*Currently targeted for October 2015; date subject to change
Why are you doing this?
As we evaluate which operating systems to support for Salesforce1, we consider which ones will give our customers the best experience. Those assessments allow us to focus our development efforts on features and capabilities that will add the most customer value. To that end, upgrades coming in the Winter ’16 release will require Android OS 4.4 and higher.
What do you recommend?
Customers should focus on using devices with the latest version of Android. While this change requires a minimum of Android OS 4.4, we recommend customers use AndroidOS 5.0 or higher to ensure future compatibility. While Salesforce does not supportAndroid tablets, customers can use the Salesforce1 mobile browser app on those devices. For iPad users, we recommend the Salesforce1 for iOS downloadable app.
Please see the “Requirements for the Salesforce1 Mobile App” help topic.
How can I get more information?
If you have further questions, please reach out to Customer Support by opening a ticket via the Help & Training portal. For an overview of our philosophy on retiring functionality, please access the Feature Retirement Philosophy article.
What does this mean for organisations?
Salesforce1 will not support Android devices that are running 4.2 or 4.3 as of Winter 16 (which is from 25th September through to the last instances on the 17th October). If you have users that are currently running any devices on these OS versions then you will need to either upgrade the OS version or purchase new devices with the latest Android version – otherwise there will be no updates for bug fixes or improvements.
It is worth noting that devices can become locked to a final version of Android. This varies from manufacturer to manufacturer and as we can see next this may well inform the device policy that you implement for your organisation.
So if, as an organisation, we have a device policy that we can control (ie not a BYOD/Bring your own device policy) then it is well worth thinking about not just the form factor and the device specifications. We must also think about the manufacturer, the OS version that the device ships with as well as how often they update the Android version and when they stop the updating process.
An example of this is when we look at Samsung and their approach to Android updates. Samsung overlay the UI of the stock Android with their own implementation of this called ‘TouchWiz’. From an individual perspective you can either love or hate this but what this means is that as Google release newer Android versions these will not automatically be available Samsung devices. This is because Samsung need to perform testing and updates to ensure things like ‘TouchWiz’ work correctly with the Android Release.
The result is slower updates to these devices and at some point no updates. Samsung will stop updating the older device models and so our devices effectively get ‘stuck’ at a particular Android version. This is not just Samsung but all smart phone manufacturers who make changes to the stock Android and therefore require testing, updating and therefore work to be completed (work meaning effort and effort meaning money so at some point it does not make business sense).
So when selecting Android as an OS that you will consider for your corporate devices make sure you take the above into account. Buy the latest devices but as importantly make sure these devices are already at the latest Android OS. This will at least give you some headroom as the Android OS bandwagon moves on and as Salesforce will stop SF1 supporting the lower Android versions.
If you would like further advice an device polices or anything around mobile OS choices please feel free to mail me directly at email@example.com.