The odds are good that you sign into a Google account as soon as you turn on a new phone. What if you don't, though? Well, none of the Google apps on your phone will work, and that includes the Play Store. Thus, pre-installed apps are cut off from updates. Google is looking to change that soon.
Google is contacting developers who have apps preloaded on phones to give them a friendly heads up on an upcoming change. In the coming months, Google plans to begin testing a feature that allows preloaded apps to update via the Play Store even if you don't log in. As Google says, this will provide a more consistent app experience for users.
Users who don't want Google installing anything will be free to disable the auto-update feature, which is only coming to phones with Android Lollipop (API21) or higher. Google is advising developers to make sure that any updates to their app work properly in the absence of a Google account. You can see the full text of the email below.
Hello Google Play Developer,
In the coming months, Google Play will begin testing a new feature that will automatically allow Google Play to update pre-loaded apps for users who didn't sign in to a Google account. Users have the ability to turn off this feature at any time if they wish.
This new feature will provide users with a more consistent app experience across many devices and will allow them to access the best and newest features provided by developers. This should also help developers reduce overhead costs required to support obsolete app versions.
We have identified that one or more of your apps may be pre-loaded on various devices and OS versions. We recommend that you verify that new releases of your app will work as desired with or without a Google account. Note that this change will only apply to devices shipped with Android Lollipop (API 21) or newer OS versions.
We appreciate your support as we continually work to improve our platform to ensure the best experience for users and developers.
- Justin Case