During most months, your Android device will receive a Google Play system update that Google has used for a few years to squash bugs or take care of critical security issues involving the Google Play Store, Google Play services, and Android. This way of pushing updates to a phone or tablet or Wear OS watch is a pretty remarkable addition to Android, because it allows Google to take care of issues without the need for a manufacturer to push a full system-level update. However, knowing what Google has included in these updates has always been a mystery.
At the end of 2021, it appears Google started to tell us everything that is a part of these Google Play system updates and may continue to inform us going forward. A new Google support page is listing what’s new in Google System Updates and it kicked things off with the December 2021 update followed by the January 2022 update.
The most recent update fixed a critical issue involving “device connectivity, safety & emergency, system management & diagnostics and media related services.” It also brought new discovery features to Google Play, optimizations to allow for faster and more reliable downloads, added new features to Play Pass and Play Points, improved Play Protect, and fixed other Play Store bugs. On a system level, it updated the timezone management system services that should improve device connectivity, network usage, etc.
- [Tablet, Wear OS, Phone] Bug fixes for device connectivity, safety & emergency, system management & diagnostics and media related services.
Google Play Store
- Play-as-you-download feature to let gamers start playing mobile games while the app download continues to reduce waiting times.
- New Features to help you discover the Apps & Games you love.
- Optimizations allowing faster and more reliable download and installation.
- New features to the Play Pass and Play Points programs.
- Enhancements to Google Play Billing.
- Continuous improvements to Play Protect to keep your device safe.
- Various performance optimizations, bug fixes and improvements to security, stability and accessibility.
- With updates to the timezone management system, added support for new daylight savings time transition changes in various countries.
- Updates to system management services that improve device connectivity, network usage, stability, security and updatability.
With each month’s update, Google is providing specifics on availability as well. For example, a number of fixes are directly related to the Google Play system update for January (the critical and system management updates), while the Google Play Store changes arrive with an update to v28.7 of the Play Store.
To check for Google Play system updates on your phone, head into Settings>About> and look for your device’s software information. It should tell you the month of your current update. You used to be able to tap it to force it to check for an update, but Google may have killed that with Android 12.
To check for updates to the Google Play Store, head into the Store, tap your profile (top right), then Settings>About and tap “Update Play Store.”