Google may be developing a way to send out Android system updates the same way it delivers app updates — through the Play Store.

The folks at 9to5Google were examining the latest version of the Play Store app and they found a bunch of mentions of a system update component.

It’s not ready for prime time yet, and it’s unclear if or when it’ll ever see the light of day or if it will be available to all Android phones, or just a subset (like Google Pixel devices, or maybe Android One phones). But it sure looks like Google is at least considering rolling out system updates through the Play Store.

Update 4/16/2019: It looks like Google is starting to test this with some Android Q beta testers

There are no pictures of the new Google Play system update feature included in the Play Store APK, but there are some lines of text suggesting it’ll work a lot like the current System Update feature on Google Pixel phones, first offering a “Download & Install” option, followed by “Preparing…” then “Installing… Device will restart soon” and finally “All good! Update complete.”

While it’s not hard to imagine Google simply using the Play Store to initiate updates for its own devices, what’s less clear is whether this would have any impact on the millions of Android phones from third-party device makers, many of which have a lousy track record for releasing timely security or feature updates.

Google’s Project Treble technology theoretically makes it easier for device makers to roll out OS updates by allowing them to separate their custom user interfaces and other features from the core operating system. Allowing those companies to roll out OS updates the same way they would issue app updates could help simplify the process, thus increasing the chances you’ll be able to keep your phone up to date.

It’s also theoretically possible that Google could use Project Treble + the Play Store to roll out OS updates without going through phone makers themselves… but I’m not going to hold my breath on that possibility. li


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4 replies on “Future Android system updates might come from the Play Store”

  1. This is never going to happen. And if it does, it’ll only be for the latest Pixel devices for only the first 18 months, until Google starts to give up on its own devices.

    I mean, come on, this is Google we are talking about.
    They made AndroidTV and AndroidWear as proprietary ecosystems, unlike Android/open-source, yet they still do not support the software and don’t have the initiative to get the OEMs to do so. The ones who end up losing are the consumers.

    And that’s before even thinking about all this theming and proprietary processors that OEMs put it, followed up with third-party bloat Apps on each device. The only way Google can think about having a system like this (where Google can beam monthly security updates, and 6-monthly platform updates, directly over the air, like Apple does) is if Google goes back to the drawing board and implements it into Android. Then makes a wall, where no device is allowed to update to this new platform (eg Android 10-R), and new devices must adopt the new system and ship the phone with it.

    ….taking half-measures, as they love to lazily do, will not suffice, and only cause further frustrations!

  2. Maybe they intend “a subscription for updates” ie you have to pay for updates

  3. > It’s also theoretically possible that Google could use Project Treble + the Play Store to roll out OS updates without going through phone makers themselves…

    Laughing at the thought that it could possibly also be used to replace Vendor-modified versions of Android with Stock Android. Of course, it would run directly counter to BigTech’s long-running effort to normalize the thinking that they actually own the device and not the user who paid $1k for it.

  4. Wow, would this be widely welcomed!
    My device runs Android One and didn’t get the March 1 Security Update until yesterday…

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