Google has verified that it will use the infrastructure of Google Play Services to update Android phones will get the COVID-19 tracking updates through Google Play with the upcoming COVID-19 contact tracing program it is developing in partnership with Apple. It will ensure that more Android devices actually get the updates, and also make sure they’re available on Android 6.0 Marshmallow or higher smartphones.
This was an open question before today but one that Google had to tackle. That’s because Google Play is the only security program that exists to get Android Android phones will get the COVID-19 tracking updates through Google Play timely app updates. The other way around — complete upgrades to the operating system — is also fraught with delays from both operators and mobile phone makers.
Google says its update program applies to both phases of the Bluetooth contact tracing process and the final API release due next month, and the next step, which will see the APIs integrated into the OS. The companies would only say the second stage will start “in the coming months.”
There’s one big collection of Android Android phones that will get the COVID-19 tracking updates through Google Play and other devices that don’t benefit from Google Play services, including all of China’s Android devices, as well as any Huawei mobiles sold across the globe since US restrictions were imposed. Google is not permitted to sell apps to Huawei, which ensures it can not extend this framework to its smartphones just as Chrome or Gmail can not be used as well.
Google plans to release a framework for those Android phones will get the COVID-19 tracking updates through Google Play that could be used by those companies to replicate the stable, anonymous tracking system that Google and Apple are creating. It would then be up to Xiaomi, Huawei, and other Chinese phone makers to determine whether to use the framework.
That’s the approach Google is using for its update program Project Mainline, introduced last year for more recent versions of Android. Project Mainline updates are therefore explicitly given. Google refused to comment on whether it would be this system but noted that it would provide evaluations of code to companies wishing to implement a similar program.