updated 05:46 am EDT, Wed July 9, 2014
Sony Xperia Z Ultra, LG G Pad 8.3, HTC One M7 removed from Google Play
The roster of Google Play Edition devices available from Google Play directly has halved in size. Thee of the six smartphones involved in the program, which offered stock Android on popular devices, have been permanently removed from sale after being listed as out of stock since last month, though neither Google nor the manufacturers involved have provided any explanation for the disappearance.
The three devices removed from the store are the Sony Xperia Z Ultra, the LG G Pad 8.3, and the HTC One M7, reports Android Police. While the store still lists the HTC One M8, Moto G, and Samsung Galaxy S4, the last of the trio has apparently been out of stock for the last three weeks, suggesting it is next on the chopping block.
Google has yet to give an indication that Google Play Editions of smartphones will cease, but a number of schemes on the horizon could take the emphasis away from the project. The announced Android One initiative has Google working with phone producers to create entry-level smartphones for developing markets running on stock Android. Rumors of the Nexus device range's demise have also been rebuffed by the company, with the head of Android engineering at Google noting that the Nexus device and Android development teams are codependent.
Another program, Android Silver, has yet to be confirmed by Google, but sounds a lot like Google Play editions by operation. Effectively a more expensive version of Android One, Android Silver involves manufacturers creating high-specification devices using an unfettered version of Android, with rumors claiming Google is spending as much as $1 billion to entice manufacturers to the program.