Android not only receives a large annual firmware update, but also smaller monthly updates. Google Play security updates are one of them, but they are different from the monthly security patches.
What is a Google Play System Update?
Google Play system updates were introduced in Android 1
With Android 10, Google took 12 core components and turned them off as “modules”. Google can now address these modules independently without sending a full firmware update or involving the phone manufacturer.
Google Play system updates primarily fix security issues, but are not the same as the monthly security patches. Both are responsible for different things. All devices running Android 10 and above can get a Google Play security update regardless of whether they have the latest security patches.
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 framework 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 a firmware update was required.
That’s the most important thing about Google Play system updates: you don’t need firmware updates or phone manufacturers. This doesn’t mean that Google can completely bypass the manufacturer of your phone and bring the latest features to you right away. However, this means that you don’t have to worry about more critical security issues.
Check which version of the Google Play system you have
To check your Google Play security update or for a new update, swipe down from the top of the screen (once or twice, depending on the manufacturer of your device). Then tap the gear icon to open the Settings menu.
Tap on “Security”.
At the top of the screen you will see a “Security Status” section. When the Google Play system is up to date, the icon will turn green. You can also see the date of the last update. If the icon is red, you may have to restart to install the update.
Tap Google Play System Update to manually check for an update.
Tap “Check for Updates”.
Note that the “Security Update” and the “Google Play System Update” do not necessarily have the same date.