May’s Google Play system updates for Android phones add self-sharing to Nearby Share, a redesign of the Google Help app, Android 13’s photo picker, and more.
Every month, Google outlines the latest updates to what it calls the “Google System” for Android. These include everything from Google Play Services, the Play Store, and Android’s “Google Play system updates.” As these three core aspects of your phone are tightly intertwined, Google offers update notes for them in one handy location, often updating and adding new notes over the course of each month.
The easiest way to check whether you need to update Google Play Services on your phone is to follow a direct link to the app’s Play Store listing and update from there, if available. To update the Play Store, tap your avatar in the corner, then “Settings.” Under the “About” section, you’ll see an option to “Update Play Store.” Meanwhile, Google Play system updates can be found through the Settings app, under About phone > Android version > Google Play system update.
The headlining feature of May 2022’s Google Play updates is the introduction of self sharing to Nearby Share. If you haven’t had the chance to use Nearby Share on your Android phone, it offers an experience similar to AirDrop on Apple devices, and is also compatible with Chromebooks and Windows PCs. With self sharing, it’ll become easier to send files, links, and text from one of your own devices to another, without needing to accept the incoming share on the receiving device.
Meanwhile, another noteworthy feature is a redesign of the Google Help app. Since last year Google has been steadily redesigning their various apps and applets to use Material You, their latest design language, which premiered on the Pixel 6. It’s possible a similar such redesign is coming to Google Help, the company’s on-device support and knowledgebase hub.
Each month’s update also includes its own variety of security improvements. Otherwise, many of the update notes are the same as seen last month, including mentions of improvements to Play Pass and Play Points.
To get these features, improvements, and more on your own device, you’ll want to be on Google Play Services version 22.15 and Play Store version 30.3, both of which should have begun rolling out as of May 2. So far, a date has not been announced for Android’s May Google Play system update.
Update 5/16: In the two weeks since this month’s patch notes have gone live, Google has added quite a few new tidbits. This includes improvements to Android Automotive’s ability to use video streaming apps and the ability for parents to “set a persistent launcher” on a Family Link controlled device.
The most notable improvement this month is that devices on Android 11 and Android 12 will get getting the enhanced Photo Picker that Google created for Android 13. The new design is intended to let you give an app permission to a select few files rather than full permission to all “media” on your device. When it was first unveiled for Android 13, Google shared that it would come to older devices through a future Play System update.
Google Play System updates for May 2022
- [Auto, Phone, Tablet, TV, Wear OS] Bug fixes for account management and system management & diagnostics related services.
- [Phone, Tablet] Migration of the existing device setup onboarding flow for supervised work accounts to a web based experience.
- [Phone] Ability for parents to set a persistent launcher on devices supervised with Family Link using local parental controls.
- [Phone, Tablet] Nearby Share now allows users to share content more seamlessly between their devices logged into the same account.
- [Auto] Support for installation and use of video streaming apps in-car infotainment systems through Android Automotive.
- Improvements to Play-as-you-download feature to let gamers start playing mobile games while the app download continues to reduce waiting times.
- New Features to help you discover the Apps & Games you love.
- Optimizations allowing faster and more reliable download and installation.
- New features to the Play Pass and Play Points programs.
- Enhancements to Google Play Billing.
- Continuous improvements to Play Protect to keep your device safe.
- Various performance optimizations, bug fixes and improvements to security, stability, and accessibility.
- [Auto, Phone, Tablet, TV, Wear OS] Design improvements to Google Help.
- Updates to system management services that improve device connectivity and stability & performance.
- New developer features for Google and third-party app developers to support ads, location services, media, security & privacy, and utilities-related developer services in their apps.
- New developer service and user experience to allow users to select specific photos or videos to share with an app rather than granting permission to all media files on the device.
Author: Kyle Bradshaw