Google is starting to deliver Pixel system updates via the Play Store

From Android's inception, system updates have been delivered from the Settings app, but it looks like that's set to change with Android Q. The folks at 9to5Google uncovered a new string in the Play Store APK that allows system updates to be installed directly from the app, alongside regular app updates.

Google is now testing that particular implementation, with a user on Reddit getting a system update that was delivered via the Play Store. The device in question was on Android Q Beta 2, and while it looks like the update was a minor patch, the phone rebooted automatically and there was a "G symbol with a progress bar below it," just like the ones you get with regular system updates.

Google is starting to deliver Pixel system updates via the Play Store

The user also noted in a comment that the update was "definitely faster than previous updates," and right now we don't know whether this is a feature that's trying out in the Android Q beta or an early look at broader changes to system updates. We'll have to wait until I/O 2-19 — scheduled to kick off on May 7 — to hear more details about the feature, including whether it will be exclusive to the Pixels or if it'll make its way to other OEMs.

What are your thoughts on getting system updates from the Play Store?

Harish Jonnalagadda
Senior Editor - Asia

Harish Jonnalagadda is a Senior Editor overseeing Asia at Android Central. He leads the site's coverage of Chinese phone brands, contributing to reviews, features, and buying guides. He also writes about storage servers, audio products, and the semiconductor industry. Contact him on Twitter at @chunkynerd.

12 Comments
  • This would be a great change. It would be simpler for the user to keep their devices up-to-date, as all updates come from the same place. It could also theoretically make it easier for OEM's and carriers to push those updates out faster.
  • You stop that kooky talk right now
  • Let's just hope other, less desirable things don't get downloaded with those updates. Tin foil hat firmly in place...
  • HTC did this for years when they were still relevant...and still for a while afterwards
  • Indeed, not to mention you'll get notified without even pressing a thing just like other apps
  • I think it would make sense for other OEM's because pixel devices anyways get the updates quite fast
  • Not sure how system updates via the play store will change anything, personally I prefer the system updates as they are now, from to the settings app.
  • Play Store system updates mean that Google can push a system update (e.g. a new Android platform version, with all or a subset of new APIs) without waiting for the OEM. That would mean that carriers and OEMs only need to push system updates through settings for major changes like firmware drivers. In other words, it would mean that Google could claim that fragmentation is solved for all intents and purposes. That allows each part (ODM, OEM, and Google) to focus their resources on their parts, without having to pay much attention to what the others are doing.
    In a way, it is the Microsoft Windows Update strategy, though hopefully with better results.
  • Good point, if system updates through the Play Store means faster Android updates then I'm for this change.
  • I personally love the idea of this, reminds be of BB10.
    It meant that if a system update broke something it was quickly and easily fixed with an app update.
  • If they pull this off to bypass carriers and Phone manufacturers it would be epic. This would effect their phone sales and kill the slow updates that phone companies and carriers love to do.
  • This won't affect Pixel sales as the Pixels will still get the updates first.