Why the new Android update system might confuse users

There's a few new update locations in Android 10. Find out where.

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Image: Jack Wallen

Updating Android has been, to this point, mostly painless. Users wait until they see a system update prompt in the notification shade. Once the prompt appears, a user can tap it to invoke the update process. It wasn't magic, it wasn't confusing … it was fairly simple. 

All the while, in the background, Google Play would update apps for you. Should your device upgrade from one release to another, you'd be prompted to reboot and all was well.

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That was then, this is now. 

Before I get into the possible confusion, let me say this one thing: Every update on Android 10 should be seamless and automatic. Should, being the operative word. So far, on the beta program, that has been the case.

However, it's when you start poking around that you might get confuddled. Why do I say that? 

Consider this: As of Android 10, beta build 6, there are now four different update locations on the device:

  • Google Play | My apps & games - for apps.
  • Settings | System | Advanced | System update - for Android upgrades.
  • Settings | Security | Security update - for the latest security patch.
  • Settings | Security | Google Play system update - for the latest Google Play update.

That's right, four update locations. 

What does this mean?

First off, you will not have to manually walk through each of these locations in order to update your device. Why? Each of these should happen automatically. That doesn't mean you cannot manually check each of them, to initiate a check for updates of the various systems. Case in point, I daily check my device for security patch updates. Why? If there's a singular update of importance, it's that one (Hence, my propensity for checking it daily). 

What this splitting of updates does is not only make the upgrade process more reliable, but it also gives the user more power. If security is your biggest concern, frequently check the security patch update. If features and reliability is on the top of your list, check for the system update. And always, always, always check for app updates in Google Play.

And checking for those updates is the same as it ever was. Navigate to one of the locations (Figure A) and tap the entry for that particular update. If there is an update available, you'll be informed.

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Figure A: The security patch and Google Play updates.

Is this the final version?

Because I am using the beta 6 build of Android 10, I cannot be 100% certain these new update locations will be in the final release. However, should they be, know that you aren't required to ever bother with them. The developers of Android 10 have gone to great lengths to make the platform as smooth and user-friendly as possible. To that end, they've done a remarkable job of improving how Android Pie (so long dessert nomenclature) functions and updates. 

If you tend to expect (or want) frequent updates for your mobile platform, you'll be pleased with what the developers have done in Android 10. The ability to manually check for the various types of updates in the platform should please many a hard-core user. For those that don't care for such things, know that that Android update/upgrade process should be smoother and more reliable than ever.

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