Not only does Android get a major annual firmware update, but there are also minor monthly updates. Google Play security updates are one of these, but they are different from the monthly security updates – this is what they do.
What is a Google Play system update?
Google Play system updates were introduced in Android 10 (originally known as Project Mainline). All Android 10 or later devices are required to include Google Play system updates. While phone and tablet manufacturers are responsible for delivering security updates, Google releases Google Play system updates.
With Android 10, Google took 12 core components and distributed them as “modules”. Google can now address these modules independently without sending a complete firmware update or involving the phone manufacturer.
Google Play system updates mainly address security issues, but they are not the same as the monthly security updates. Both are responsible for different things. All devices with Android 10 and above can get a security update for Google Play, regardless of whether they have the latest security updates.
A good example of where Google Play system updates could have helped was the Stagefright security bug in 2015. Stagefright was an attack on a multimedia player component in Android. The Media Frame is one of the 12 components that can be updated via Google Play System Updates. Many devices were never patched to protect against Stagefright because it required a firmware update.
The most important thing about Google Play system updates: they do not require firmware updates or phone manufacturers. This does not mean that Google can completely bypass your phone maker and give you the latest features right away. However, this means that you do not have to worry about any more critical security issues.
Check which version of the Google Play system you have
To check your Google Play security update version or for a new update, swipe down from the top of the screen (once or twice, depending on the device manufacturer). Then tap the gear icon to open the Settings menu.
At the top of the screen you will see the section “Security status”. If the Google Play system is up to date, the icon will be green. You also see the date of the last update. If the icon is red, you may need to restart to install the update.
To manually check for an update, tap “Google Play System Update.”
Press “Check for update.”
Note that “Security Update” and “Google Play System Update” do not necessarily have the same date.