Heads up: The latest Play Services update has a battery drain problem

Google Play Services is both a blessing and a curse. Over the years, the software has become the essential motor driving Android devices, with a lot of former system APIs being transferred to the all-encompassing software. Push notifications, background operations, fast GPS functionality, and more are bundled within the application. Unfortunately, this means that any bugs with Play Services will affect almost all devices running a Google-sanctioned version of Android. Such a bug has surfaced with the latest update to version number 18.3.82, which churns through standby battery regardless of which phone you’re using.

Over the weekend, we received a number of reports from users with all kinds of devices and Android versions saying that their battery started draining heavily without them using their phones more than normal. To see if you’re affected, head to your device’s battery stats and enable “Show full device usage,” found under the three-dot menu in the top right on Stock Android (for customized manufacturer versions of the OS, you may have to use a similar-but-different approach). If you see Play Services as one of the top users and your graph is going down rapidly even at times when you weren’t using your device actively, it’s likely that you’ve received the botched update.

Let’s hope Google is aware of the bug and working on a fix. In the meantime, the temporary solutions are downgrading to an older version of Play Services (though it will auto-update again at some point) or trying to clear the app’s cache and storage. You could also test the beta version, available by signing up on the Play Store or by downloading it from APK Mirror. That appears to do the trick for me, but remember that beta software is usually less stable.

Google Play services

Google Play services

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