PSA – Lots of Google App Updates Coming

A friendly reminder to everyone who uses an Android phone or tablet to keep an eye on your Google Play Store account.  With the announcement that Android Marshmallow is going to start rolling out next Tuesday to Nexus devices and some HTC devices later this year, Google appears to be in high gear getting updates to a big swath of their apps for Android.  In the course of the last 24 hours, eight Google apps have been updated:  Drive, Android Wear, Sheets, Photos, Messenger, Google Play Games, Maps and Chromecast.  That pace is likely to continue the rest of this week and even into Monday prior to the release of Android Marshmallow to the masses.

So why all the updates after a pretty good round of app updates just last week?

The reasons are a bit known and a bit unknown.  At this point internally, Google is undoubtedly running what will be the RTM (Release To Manufacture) version of Android Marshmallow.  That means that the development teams for the various Google apps are going to have to check, double-check and re-check their code and release updates on any issues they run into.  This would be

Google Android Marshmallow Icon Screen
Android Marshmallow

thinks like tweaking their apps to take full advantage of the APIs in Android Marshmallow when it is released.

Secondly, and this is just as important, they are doing regression testing on these apps and releasing updates.  Unless it is specifically stated, apps in the Google Play Store are going to work with Android Marshmallow, Lollipop, KitKat and even JellyBean.  That means that developers – Google and others – have to test to make sure their apps don’t break on older versions.

Finally, for any given app from Google, there are a number of versions of that app available based on your device.  So for example, on the Google Drive update, there are six different APKs for that one app for devices at are on various Android versions or running an ARM processor and the like.  That means that while they are using the same basic code structure, they have to make sure everything is good code wise for all the various Android devices out there.  Thus the numerous builds and thus the massive number of updates.

Hopefully this makes sense for everyone but the point of this post is to make sure you keep your eyes open for updates.  Even if you are on a Non-Nexus device, go ahead and get the updates for your device.  Chances are they will bring bug and/or performance improvements that will benefit all users, not just Marshmallow users.