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Google Play Services: what is it and what is it for?

Often it seems that problems on Android are related to Google Play Services: but what is this exactly? Why is it there? Here we walk you through what it is, what it’s used for, and why it’s become indispensable.

Google Play Services: what is it?

Google Play Services is not an application as most people know them. When you attempt to open it, nothing will happen. However, it is installed by default on all Android devices. It also sees regular updates, and the number of permissions it requires is impressive. Everything goes: access to and control over SMS, access to sensitive log data, access to all the information from Google applications; the list goes on.

In short, Google Play Services is an application that is very closely linked to the Android system itself.

It's a package of APIs (things that assist programmers and allow apps to easily communicate with other apps) that ensure fewer apps are dependent upon Android OS updates to run.

androidpit google play services app info
Google Play Services remains mysterious to many Android users. / © ANDROIDPIT

What does Google Play Services do?

In fact, Google Play Services represents a minor smartphone revolution. Take the example of Google Maps: before Google Play Services, this app was updated when the Android OS was updated. We all know how slow carriers and manufacturers can be when it comes to rolling out updates. Today, there’s no more waiting for updates to Google Maps: they are done automatically through Google Play Services.

chrome play store
Google apps, like Chrome, are updated through Google Play Services. / © AndroidPIT

Google Play Services thus allows your smartphone to benefit from the latest versions of applications without upgrading to the latest version of Android. This does not include all applications, however; it’s mostly for Google’s homebrewed apps (Gmail, Google+, Google Play, etc.). However, applications using Google's services, of which there are many, may also be affected.

In essence, it means that any version of Android, from Android 2.2 up, can benefit from new apps and features, independent of updates to the OS. It's essentially a way of fencing in fragmentation and ensuring that as many users as possible can continue to enjoy Android.

It is a change in the operating system that came with Android 4.3 but has continued to grow gradually with new Android updates, particularly with the arrival of Lollipop and Marshmallow.

Can I disable it?

As with applications found on Android by default, it is not possible to uninstall it. However, you can disable it: To do this, go to Settings > Applications > All > Google Play Services > Disable.

androidpit google play services disable
It is possible to disable Google Play Services, but it is not advised. / © ANDROIDPIT

If the Disable checkbox is grayed out, then you have to carry out an intermediate step: go to Settings > Security > Device administrators and disable the Android Device Manager.

androidpit google play services security device admin
To disable Google Play Services, you might first need to disable Android Device Manager. / © ANDROIDPIT

Be careful though! If you read the previous paragraphs, you will know the impact that disabling Google Play Services will have: your applications, including those related to Google, will not function properly or possibly at all. Say goodbye to Google Play and other services offered by Google!

Why does Google Play Services consume battery?

Google Play Services generally consumes between five and ten percent of your battery. In other cases, it’s more alarming: some users have seen Google gobble up 80 - 90 percent of their battery. The problem is that this situation is increasingly common. It usually arises after an Android OS update. The most likely reason is an incompatibility issue between your Android version and that of Google Play Services.

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Google Play Services is gaining a reputation as an Android killer. / © ANDROIDPIT

The only solutions are:

  • Disable Google Play Services (and suffer the consequences)
  • Remove updates to the application (Settings > Applications > All > Google Play Services > Uninstall updates). You might need to head to Settings > Security > Device Administrators and disable Android Device Manager first.
  • Disable the synchronization of Google data (Settings > Accounts. Here, press the menu button (three dots) and disable Auto-sync data).

Does that clear things up? Do you have any more questions? Let us know in the comments.


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  • My problem with Google Play Services is not the battery life but it keeps building up 2.5+ gb of data and I have to keep clearing it out. This happens now every other day. I have no idea what this data is, I am not a very heavy user. Anyone else have this problem, and is there anything I can do about it (other than disabling it)?

  • This was a benign article failing to make it clear just how nosy google is with all the permissions we allow using google play services - even allowing it to dial phone numbers and use our cameras. We do not need google play services to use cameras and send text messages or make phone calls, I already have apps for those functions, why should I have to use google play servcies for those same functions? Furthermore, these past two weeks I have had constant warnings that my battery is low, that my RAM is used up and that I have no more storage space, and yet I've only downloaded TWO apps ever since I got this phone, Angry Birds and another which I uninstalled. I know people who download dozens and more dozens of apps. Well, I have 4 GB storage and google play services was using 3 GB in data storage. I erased the data stored. They don't need it. Neither do I.

    • Luke R 1 month ago Link to comment

      I agree wholeheartedly. Google is nothing more than an invasive Big brother or worse because they're behind the scenes like Google Play services. They take pictures of the stupid little games that I play and place them on my profile. Does that speak enough as to their monopoly and control issues? And that applies to my experience far beyond Android. I wish to God I could rid my life of Google. They may as well be communists or dictators.

  • :y Google play services is frozen, out of commission.. don't know, but isn't working at all.

  • I have been having problems for a few weeks with apps suddenly stopping on my Lenovo TAB 2 A8-50F tablet (I think I am Android 5.1 now), and recently I also started to get error messages from Google Play Services, stating that it needed to be updated, yet there was no link to update. I have spent some time with my tablet today, attempting to troubleshoot, and I even used an article on this site about getting Play Store to work - I deleted the cache for Store and for Services, uninstalled updates for both, restarted my tablet numerous times... I am not getting the Services error right now, but my apps are still crashing all over the place:, gmail, outlook, yahoo mail, my fitness apps (sparkpeople, FitNotes), Bible/YouVersion... this is so aggravating. Google Calendar finally synced just now, after a week of not doing it, but it "stopped" and crashed when I tried to open up an event. How do I get my apps back to working order??

  • Mat Ogun 5 months ago Link to comment

    Help!! I have mistankenly disabled my Google play services and apps on my phone are misbehaving, how can I reable it and correct the mistake? I have tried different medium online but its still showing as disable. Its frustrating because most of my apps are going but.

    • Go to settings,find application manager,go to disabled section, find Google play services and press enable.

  • Never even gave Google Services a second thought and I still don't have the battery drain.

  • CJ Brown 5 months ago Link to comment

    Perhaps the future will require Google to make adjustments to Google Play Services so that it's not such a battery drain when in operation

  • All the phones that me and my wife owned (HTC 601, galaxy s3, galaxy tab 3, LG Bello, galaxy note, ) at some point experienced the nasty google play services battery drain. I would usually flash the custom ROM and never install the services.

  • why they cant remove it from android.....there r many os which are secure n stable without such app......

  • Frank 5 months ago Link to comment

    I had high battery drain on Google Services, but I downloaded an app from the play store called Gservicefix. Now it only consumes 1% after 4.5 hrs SOT.

  • This process is the top reason I hate Android. Before Android 5 we can enable/disable it when required but now we can't do that... more hate - Major reason - They want our data at any cost to data mine. Their reasoning will be security bla bla...

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