If you have an Android device, odds are you also have Google Play Services installed. While many users may never realize it, those who know exactly what should and shouldn’t be on their phones and tablets often wonder if the app is worth having. Google is slowly making it almost impossible not to have the app, but many users, like myself, aren’t thrilled about it.
I always read at least the first 10-20 reviews before I install any app. Imagine my surprise when I suddenly received a notification from my anti-virus that Google Play Services was safe. I didn’t remember installing it. Turns out, you don’t really get a choice. Google pushes the app out and even updates it without your permission. To many users, this is a red flag. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t install it, either.
What Exactly Is Google Play Services?
Google is attempting to provide users with a more personalized experience through the use of Google Play Services. You can’t technically do anything with it by itself, but it integrates with other apps to provide a better user experience. Leaderboards, mapping, search, video recommendations, commenting, viewing the weather and many other tasks now require Google Play Services in order to function properly.
It is designed to keep Google apps and integrated apps updated and even provides authentication to any Google services, such as syncing, privacy settings and location services. It works in the background to provide faster, more immersive app experiences.
Google wants to eliminate the fragmentation issue in Android by always providing users with the most up to date technology even if their mobile provider hasn’t yet rolled out the latest Android OS. All in all, it sounds fairly useful.
Why Do Users Hate It?
Take a quick look in the Google Play Store and you’ll instantly see Google Play Services isn’t the most well liked app. At the time of writing, the app has 3.7 stars with over half a million reviews being a 3 star or less. The app does currently have over 700,000 coveted 5 star reviews, so it does balance out.
Reading through the reviews and based on my own experiences, users do have valid reasons for hating the app. Some common complaints include:
Drains battery quickly
Takes up too much space on devices with little built-in storage
Hogs data due to frequent updating, syncing and background processes, equaling overage charges
Required for many non-Google apps
Requires full access to your device
Runs even after disabling it
While some users love everything Google does and they love having that highly personalized experience, others prefer some control over their mobile usage. Android was designed to be an open-source platform, but now users are finding they have no choice except to give in to Google and be tracked at all times so the service can learn more about you to make search, email, maps and app usage custom to your needs.
Should You Install It?
Currently, new Android devices have it pre-installed while some devices find that even after uninstalling, it instantly reinstalls itself. If you do get a choice, the answer depends on what apps you use. I actually uninstalled my favorite weather app because it required Google Play Services to view the radar. Why do I need a more personalized experience to view the radar? That’s the kind of questions many users are asking, but their concerns are being ignored.
If you can’t live without a certain app that needs the service to run, you don’t have much choice. However, some apps you can avoid. For instance, YouTube now requires the app to run. Visit the mobile website instead.
If you don’t want the app, open the Google Play Services app settings, uninstall it and disable it. The only other option is to root your phone, but that isn’t recommended if your phone is still under contract. Try it out and see if you like it. If not, tell Google that you value your privacy and right to choose.