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Those apps aren't going to update themselves ... by default, that is

One of the best parts about owning a smart phone is the limitless possibilities of installing apps that can do so much more than the phone can out of the box. The unfortunate downside is trying to keep up with the seemingly constant flow of app updates coming to your device every day. But you're in luck, as Android has had automatic updating of apps through the Play Store since back in the day when it was still the Android Market, and it's a simple process to get set up.

Head to the Google Play Store on your device, hit the menu button and go to "settings". If it isn't already set by default, go ahead and tap the "Auto-update apps" setting and choose the most appropriate setting for your needs -- no updates, updates only on Wifi, or all updates. Most people with limited data buckets will be best-off with the "Auto-update apps over Wifi only" option. Once you have turned on automatic updates of either kind, you can always turn off automatic updates for a particular app by navigating to its Play Store listing (from the "My apps" area) and tapping the menu button, then un-checking the "Auto-update" box.

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Google Play update settings Google Play update settings

Having auto-update selected will have most of your apps updating on their own any time there are small and non-consequential updates such as bug fixes. Whenever an app requires new permissions or is marked as a "manual" update by the developer for one reason or another, these will still need your approval. For these cases, make sure you have the "Notifications" setting in the Play Store checked so that you'll be notified in the status bar when apps are waiting for manual approval to install.

With these few quick and easy settings, you can reduce the headache of keeping apps up to date across your devices. 


Reader comments

Android 101: Keep your apps up to date


I'm a bit neurotic when it comes to updating my apps, & I'm not sure why. I check at least once per day (always while connected to wifi) to see if any of my apps require an update. I always read the changlogs & any changes in permissions, mostly for curiosity sake, but I always update. I never let an app linger unupdated.

Me too. I kinda have an OCD for app updates and check them every few hours. Heck I do sudo apt-get update on my computer a lot too.

Ok what if one of the permissions was "Permission to insult your mother" are you still gonna update the app regardless?

Apps requiring new permissions will not Auto-Update even if you set it that it should, for this exact reason...

I also wait to read reviews before updating. Case in point one time I didn't was with Airdroid. It had worked really well but after an update it was unusable. Fortunately, I was able to delete that version and get the old one back. Since then I've been very cautious. No auto update for me.


Posted from my awesome GNex via the spankin' new Android Central App, cause I'm special that way.

I always read the reviews. The process is much easier than with iOS where you only see the change log (but at least they are there, not all android devs update the What's New). However, you can't go directly to the app from there to see the reviews and once in the app page, you can't see the changes.

However, what I don't understand is why if you click, update all or auto-update, you only have to approve any changed permissions, but if you do them one at a time, you have to read that the permissions haven't changed. Why not skip that step for single installations as well? Clearly it isn't required.

Posted from my awesome GNex via the spankin' new Android Central App, cause I'm special that way.

I'm the same way. For example, there's a new update to the GetGlue app, and I almost updated it...until I read the reviews. Seeing that they stripped away certain functions that I liked, I decided against it. I also don't update those apps that are carrier locked.

Everything else is fair game.

Posted via Android Central App

i wish they would all push auto update as soon as the update is available.

it seems that this is not the case.

i guess i'm in the minority.

I hate auto-updates...
I always enjoy checking myself and seeing what updates are available and what's new with the apps themselves. Makes things more fun.

I don't like auto-update either. It's not because I'm paranoid. It's because I want to read the change log to see if there are any new features I may want to play with.

I turn off auto-updates on everything. I do not consider "update" to always mean better, safer or improved. I enjoy reading comments from those who are first on the block to get them. That tells a story... (Ohh, the troubles I have read)... I want my updates to be fun, not hopefull experiments.

As others say, auto-update is just not good.
1) I backup versions of my apps. I use AndroZip becasue it can and I also use it for my file manager, but there are many options for this.
2) If it isn't broke, don't fix it. I don't take an update unless there is something wrong that I notice or some new feature that I want.
3) I always want to check permissions. I do not install MANY apps and updates simply because I don't like the permissions, even if they sound great.

I get sick of continuous updates i.e. Go sms(gets more updates than iTunes and starting to mimic)so unless an App is acting up I leave it and occasionally look at the update logs for features that have been added which I may like.

I completely agree with the others, auto-updates are not the way to go. That is unless you like being a beta tester. I really wish this mentality of newer automatically means better would die. It's not always the case. Just because there's an update available doesn't mean it's wise to immediately install it. Look before you leap!!!

Auto-update IS enabled by default. You have to opt out.

Posted from my awesome GNex via the spankin' new Android Central App, cause I'm special that way.

If it is not broken, do not fix it...

Shell 3D is a great launcher that got broken badly by an update about a year ago, not sure if it's been fixed since then.

Older versions of any app should be made available through Play (Downdating), unless there is an actual, authentic, genuine security problem with said individual older version.

"We must measure what we might gain by what we might lose"
And when it comes to program updates, you can lose a lot for the sake of 1 new feature you may rarely use.

The problem with enabling auto-update, is when you have multiple devices using the same Google account (so that you don't have to pay for the same apps twice). When you set up the second device, it will automatically start installing every single app you have installed on your other device, plus every app you ever paid for. At over 300 apps, it's a problem. And while many apps on both devices are the same, about half are not. To me, the solution is for Google Play to update only apps that are already installed on that specific device.

I update them manually, just because I want to read the change logs :) I always update every app though, so it would be useful to let my apps update, and show a change log when it's done, via a notification or something.

I disagree with the article. Once upon a time I automatically updated, but then I ran into too many upgrades with serious problems that took forever for the developer to correct. Now, I look at the feature changes and read the reviews to see if there are any bugs or features removed or changes that I don't care for.

I hate auto update (for many of the reasons already stated).

My wife loves it because she doesn't have to worry about ever checking. For her, if an app breaks because of a bad update she'll just wait until it is fixed and the new update is installed.

Me? I can't stand a broken app, even if I don't use it until after the fix for the bad update is released.

Different strokes for different folks, just wish the article would have presented both sides.

Posted via Android Central App

I like letting em build up until about ten apps need updating. Then I do it all in one go. With TiBu of course. Don't care for app comments as their dependent upon the individual and their mood at the time.

Not a fan of auto-update either, not even for Google apps. I want to see the change logs and review the comments before downloading. I wish there was a way to skip unnecessary updates, like the ones that fix crashes on Android 2.2 or install a dictionary for a language that I will never speak.

Posted via Android Central App

I don't want my apps to update until I read some reviews about new update and read "what's new".

If auto update is enabled we never be sure when the app got updated and what's new unless we go and check manually one by one, the latter is a PITA.

Posted via Android Central App

My google play app store doesn't have a settings menu.
This is why I looked up a guide in the first place!

Ok so I just got a samsung galaxy s4. I love the phone but for the life of me there is no 3 dots on the top of my google play store app that will allow me to change the settings so that it will only update on wifi. Pleas somebody help before I lose my mind.