Google is making an important change to how it issues Android system updates. The company wants users to be able to pull in over-the-air (OTA) updates directly from the Play Store. By doing so, users will be updating the system in much the same way they do other applications.

In some respects, the initiative is an extension of Google’s Project Treble. If you are unfamiliar with that project, it was created to allow OEMs to issue Android updates more quickly. It is a framework that streamlines Android implementation for OEMs. Manufacturers can use Project Treble to deliver more expedient Android updates.

To allow Android updates through the Play Store, Google will have to change the underlying API. 9tp5Google reports the company will do just that by moving the entire Android Update infrastructure to a new location in the Play Store.

Anyone who wants to manually pull in an Android update will now how tedious the process is. It is a multi-step path that requires going into Device Settings and digging deep into them to find the actual update itself. By shifting to Google Play, updates will be easily accessible, likely through a separate tab in the store.

Android Soon to Support System Updates Through Google Play 1
Image: 9to5Google

Google is already prepping its app store for the switch, which suggests the new update method could come with Android Q later this year. In version 14.5.52 of the Play Store, code strings have been found related to installing Android system updates.

These code strings each describe how the interface will mirror what Google Pixel smartphone users see on their own update page. One string denotes the “Download and install” button, which is what is already available through the Settings app. Elsewhere, a string refers to other system update notifications such as ‘Preparing’, ‘Installing… Device will restart soon’, ‘All good! Update complete’ and ‘Sorry, something went wrong! Try again later’.

Android Soon to Support System Updates Through Google Play 2
Image: 9to5Google

Lastly, there is also code strings for “Successfully Updated” and “System is up-to-date”. Whatever Google has planned, it is clear the company is working on overhauling the Android Update apk and the way in which smartphones can update to new versions of the OS.

How this will ultimately tally with OEMs remains to be seen. We already know manufacturers delay Android build releases beyond Google’s own release schedule. In fact, most times new Android version doesn’t arrive on third-parties until months after launch.

If Google switches to a Play Store update model, will OEMs have the same control over when the update will appear to users? Perhaps the update will be viewable in the store but with a “not compatible with this device” tag for smartphones that are not ready to update.


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Luke is a qualified writer from the UK who has been writing about all things technology for nearly a decade.