Google is no stranger to unusual errors or oddities but news has now started making the rounds that the Play Store is providing blank updates to users. As that implies, the latest misfire in one of Google's UIs is fairly straightforward. Users are opening the Play Store's update page and seeing multiple updates that don't contain any details.
Not only are no details provided about what's changed. There are also no details pertaining to version numbers or file sizes. Opening up the apps after they've updated doesn't reveal any changes either. In effect, the Google Play Store is prompting users to update apps and then not updating them in any measurable way.
Making matters more interesting, a recent Tweet from the source's Artem Russakovskii shows yet another, apparently-associated, error. Namely, the Play Store is also showing a misprint in terms of how many apps are being updated. As that's shown in the above-mentioned tweet, only four apps require updates but the UI says there are five. Each of those updates is, of course, completely devoid of details.
The error chiefly seems to happen with Google's own apps but has also been spotted showing updates for third-party offerings.
What makes the blank updates different from prior Play Store anomalies?
Google has experienced plenty of problems with its Play Store over the years. But there are a few differences worth noting here. Typically, the problems it's faced come down to the ever-increasing appearance of new malware and ever-changing regulations surrounding privacy and data use. Those types of issues are fairly straightforward. And they come with known implications as well as a plethora of information about incoming fixes.
That's not always the case, however. Google has previously seen errors that seem to primarily impact the UI. There are also differences on that front though. The main discrepancy there is that those have traditionally caused issues with functionality. In 2018, for instance, the Play Store's search UI broke. But it broke in a way that actually made the feature unusable for some users.
This blank updates issue, by comparison, is more of an obnoxious mix-up than a real problem.
Is this getting fixed?
As indicated by the date on Mr. Russakovskii's tweet and initial reports from other sources, this problem has been ongoing for some time. It seems to happen primarily when users swipe the Google Play Store out of their device's memory via the Recent apps UI. But that doesn't necessarily tell the whole story.
The error also doesn't appear to have any residual impact. Summarily, there don't appear to be any other errors associated with it. By all accounts, the blank Play Store updates are simply a bug in the user-facing interface.
Google is reportedly actively shutting down any discussion on the topic in its community support forums. And the search giant hasn't revealed any details pertaining to it either. That seems to confirm that this is a minor error and more of an annoyance than a serious problem. Simultaneously, that also means Google isn't revealing details about any fixes it may have planned or the origin of the problem.
At the very least, the problem doesn't appear to be too harmful.
Math is hard. pic.twitter.com/bQYmdNkVhJAdvertisement
— Artem Russakovskii (@ArtemR) May 5, 2020