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Google Play Services - Everything you need to know

Google Play Services is one of the most powerful pieces of software on Android. Learn everything you need here.
By
April 20, 2022

Google Play Services is one of the most important apps on any Android phone. It helps connect everything, provides easy tools for app developers, and helps older Android phones get modern features without the need for Android OS updates. Google Play is also quite elusive. It doesn’t advertise its existence on your phone. That can cause some issues when it comes to troubleshooting. Let’s take a look at what it is and how it works.

Read more: Google Play Store: A definitive guide for beginners

QUICK ANSWER

Google Play Services is a software layer between the Android OS and your applications. It can do many things, updates independently of Android, and helps developers make better apps.


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What is Google Play Services, and what does it do?

Play Services how it works
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
Play Services is a software layer between the Android operating system and your applications. It serves as a bridge to help developers create better, more optimized, more battery-efficient apps without unnecessary work. In addition, Play Services allows Google to add new features to Android without the need for Android OS updates.

Here is an example of how it works. An app developer has an app that needs to send you a push notification. Play Services has two APIs for that very function here. The developer uses those APIs in their app. From there, Play Services sends push notifications when the app asks it to without any additional work from the developer.

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of other APIs that help developers do simple tasks in a uniform way. Navigation apps asking for your location probably use Play Services to do it. Think of it as your phone’s manager, sending you notifications, giving apps your location, and running processes in the background for optimal battery efficiency.

The nice part of Play Services is that it lets Google add new features to phones without needing Android OS updates. All they have to do is add a new API to the Play Services library and then update the app on your phone to support it. Many desirable features get rolled out to users this way every year. Of course, the downside is that it can be a real pain to fix when Play Services starts acting up.


How do I update Google Play Services?

Play Services update 2
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
It should update automatically in the background. It receives updates in the Google Play Store like any normal application, so it should update when all of your other Google Play apps update. However, if you want to check manually, here’s how to do it.

The fast way

  • While on your phone, tap this link. It should take you to the Play Services page on the Google Play Store.
  • Tap the Update button if necessary.

The official way

  • Open your phone’s Settings menu. Navigate to the Apps section, tap All apps, and scroll down until you find Google Play Services. Tap it.
  • Scroll down until you see App details and tap that.
  • The phone should open Play Services in the Google Play Store. If it needs an update, tap the Update button. Google Play will update the app, and that’s all.
  • If you can’t find Play Services on the list, tap the 3-dot menu button and choose the Show system apps option.

The above process may vary slightly between devices. For example, Samsung doesn’t require you to hit All apps before showing you a full list of apps.


How do I download and install Google Play Services?

Download Google Play Services
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
The service comes pre-installed on Google Play-enabled phones starting from Android 4.4. You know if your phone is Google Play-enabled if it came with the Google Play Store. Still, some folks may want to download a specific version for specific needs, so we’ll put the process of installing Play Services here.

Identify the proper DPI and architecture for your phone

  • There are about a dozen different versions of Play Services. You need to find the right one for your phone.
  • To start, download this app. We recommend downloading it from APKMirror because it doesn’t require Google Play Services.
  • Install the app after you download it. If you’re having trouble, use this tutorial to learn how to install third-party apps.
  • Once installed, open the app. Under the Device tab, you’ll find your device’s DPI. Write that number down. Slide over to the System tab and write down your CPU Architecture. You’ll need both of those.

How to download Google Play Services

  • The most reliable place to download Play Services is APKMirror. You can find the site’s repository of Play Services here. Please note: There are separate versions of Play Services for Android TV and Wear OS. Make sure you don’t download those unless you need them.
  • In the list, select the version you want. You’ll want to make sure to download the one that matches the architecture and DPI from the previous steps. If you can’t find your DPI, you can go with the nodpi option, and it should work fine.

How to install Google Play Services

  • Play Services comes in APK format just like any other regular Android app, and the process of installing it is the same.
  • If you need additional help, you can follow this tutorial to learn how to install apps without the Google Play Store.

Please note that improper installation, trying to install the wrong variant of Play Services, and not installing correctly can lead to failed installations. If your installation fails, start at step one and perform the steps again.


How do I disable and re-enable Google Play Services?

Disable Google Play Services
Joe Hindy / Android Authority
You can disable it if you want to. However, be warned that doing so can greatly and negatively affect how your device operates. We only recommend this for troubleshooting purposes or if you intend on going for a Google-free alternative for everything, and we mean everything.

How to disable Google Play Services

  • Navigate to Settings, then to Apps. Tap the All apps option to show a list of full apps (not necessary on every phone).
  • Scroll down and select Google Play Services.
  • Tap the Disable button. It’ll shoot you a warning about how it’ll affect device performance before it lets you disable it.
  • You will almost certainly get a bunch of notifications about various apps or services no longer being able to function until you turn Play Services back on. This is normal because Play Services handles a lot of background stuff.

How to re-enable Google Play Services

  • Perform the same steps as above, except hit the Turn On button.

How to remove permissions from Google Play Services

  • Once again, follow the steps above to get to the Play Services app page in your Settings.
  • This time, tap on Permissions.
  • Tap the permission you want to revoke. Tap the Don’t allow option.
  • Your device will tell you that it may affect the functionality of some stuff. Hit Don’t allow anyway to continue.

Again, we recommend using the above methods only for troubleshooting purposes. Play Services is tied to the very core of Android, and disabling it (or its permissions) can have radically negative effects on your device and its performance.


Read more: How to get a refund for apps purchased from the Play Store

FAQs

You actually can’t uninstall it without root access. However, if you did, a lot of stuff on your phone would cease to function correctly. Examples include carrier services, Android Auto, many apps that send notifications, most navigation apps, and others. You’ll have to get new apps from sources outside the Google Play Store.

Yes, you should be able to do both of those things without any adverse effects.

It’s usually just a hiccup in the matrix. Try clearing the Google Play Store and Play Services cache, and then try again.