Google is reportedly testing a new way to push system updates to Pixel phones in Android Q: the Play Store.
A Pixel 3 user running Android Q Beta 2 posted on Reddit that his phone downloaded a ‘Google System Update,’ which appeared similar to how app updates appear when a phone downloads them from the Play Store.
After downloading the file, the Redditor’s device restarted automatically. During the boot process, the phone displayed a ‘G’ logo on a white background with a loading indicator — just like when you perform a system update.
Further, it appears the update wasn’t a full OS update, as the device’s build number didn’t change. Oddly, there was no trace of a change after the upgrade completed, and there isn’t any in-app UI for the update beyond a notification.
This suggests Google is still testing the process, so we could see more pieces added as the Q beta continues. Hopefully, that includes a screen with information about what was downloaded.
According to 9to5Google, the search giant has toyed with a system to push updated with the Play Store in the past. However, Google hasn’t officially detailed anything about a new type of system updates.
It could be planning to announce it at Google I/O 2019.
While Play Store system updates may seem like a great way to improve the adoption of Android updates on the surface, I have some reservations about the idea. For one, this test appears to arbitrarily download and apply an update with no information about what it downloaded or why.
If Google maintains this functionality into an official release, it could really mess with people, mainly if the phone downloads an update with a bug without you knowing. Imagine trying to troubleshoot that!
Worse, the Play Store already has a swath of malicious apps that claim to update your Android version. Should Google go forward with moving system updates into the Play Store, it could lend credence to these apps, especially for users who don’t know better.