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    How to update apps on Android

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    Aina Martin
    @ainamartin

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    You are here because you don't know how to update apps on your Android phone, maybe you don't know the operating system well yet, it might all seem a bit overwhelming at first. Whether you're new to smartphones or have transitioned from iOS or Windows 10 Mobile, Android has a learning curve for anyone not used to the intricacies of Google's mobile operating system.


    Fortunately, once you have control over Android, it's really easy to learn even the most complex tasks. Today we will see how to update the apps installed on Android. Making sure your apps are regularly updated will help protect you from crashes, bugs, and security holes, while keeping your device fast and smooth.



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    How to update apps on Android

    New features are added to the apps regularly too, which makes updating the app library on Android a breeze.

    Some of your system apps, such as the phone dialer or Google's suite of apps, are also updated via the Play Store, in the same way as user-installed apps. Plus, Android can also automatically update your apps for you, making the entire update system hassle-free. Let's take a look at how all of this is done in our guide on how to update apps on Android.


    1. Open the Play Store

    The Google Play Store is the equivalent of the App Store on iOS. This is where you download all your apps, movies, music and books to your device. It has undergone a lot of changes in the past few years and each release makes the store a little easier to manage and navigate. 



    If you haven't used the Play Store much, you may not know how to open it. Typically, new Android devices will have an icon for the Play Store on the device's home screen, but you may also need to open the app drawer to access the icon. On my tablet, the icon is in the dock of my device. Just touch the icon and the Play Store will open on the front page.

    2. View your app updates

    Most apps on Android use a sliding menu to navigate within the app, but in this new version the Play Store app's sliding menu had already been removed. To access the menu, tap your profile icon in the upper right corner of the display. This will open the menu, giving you many options to choose from.


    Select "Manage apps and device", which should be the first menu selection from the top. This will take you to the pages titled "Overview" and "Manage". The Manage page has several options including Installed, Available Updates and Games. 

    The Installed tab which should already be selected once you enter this menu, will show all the apps installed on your device. The Available Updates tab will show apps with updates awaiting installation. Finally, the Games tab will show all the game apps currently installed on your device.

    For our purposes, we'll stick to the available updates tab, although it's good to know what the other tabs do. The Play Store will list all available updates for your device. You will notice that each app has a button next to it that allows for a single update.



    There is also an option to update all the apps installed on your device in one go. In the Overview tab, select the "Update All" option. Typically, this is the button you will want to use to update apps on Android. Pressing the button will start the update process, with each update downloaded and installed one at a time in the list.


    If you want to see what has changed in each app update, you can select an app by tapping it and reading the "What's New?" list at the top of the app listing.

    3. App with automatic update

    Most users will likely choose to allow the device to automatically update applications, rather than having to do it manually. 

    Fortunately, it's really easy to activate it, if it's not already. Simply open the same menu as before and select the settings at the bottom of the list. There are a ton of useful settings here, but for now we'll see how to make sure the option for automatic app update is checked. 

    Thankfully, we don't have to dive too far into settings to find it. The second option at the top of the menu, in Network Preferences, is “Auto Update App”. Press this icon to display a pop-up. 

    Here you have two options to automatically update apps: on any network and on Wi-Fi only. Google Play warns that data charges may apply when automatic update on any network is selected, but I find the app to be pretty good at waiting until you're connected to Wi-Fi for the update. 


    If an update occurs while on mobile data, you can stop updates by viewing the same Updates display we saw earlier.

    Once you've allowed automatic app updates, you'll typically see app updates roll out once a day or two. 

    If you'd rather have complete control over when and which apps are updated, you can leave this setting disabled (or disable it if it's already enabled). Finally, you can also disable or enable automatic updates based on the app by visiting the app's Play Store listing and tapping the three-dot menu in the top right corner and selecting or deselecting “Enable automatic update”.


    Google and Google Play make it really easy to update apps on Android. Auto-update apps are also a great way to keep your system up to date without having to worry about manually managing the library. The Play Store has come a long way since the days of the Android Market, and managing your app library has never been easier.

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