Google's new update could be breaking Pixel phones again – here's what you need to know

Google Pixel 8 review front straight handheld
(Image credit: Future | Alex Walker-Todd)

A recent Google update is believed to be the cause of several Pixel devices no longer working properly and is forcing some users to wipe their phones. 

Over on Reddit a clutch of users reported that updating their Pixel phones to the January 2024 Google Play system update has resulted in some apps refusing to launch, some websites failing to load, the camera app not working properly and making it unable to play media including YouTube, YouTube Music, Pocket Casts, or any video on websites.

These Pixel users also noted that there were storage problems too, with things like the Files app appearing empty and screenshots not getting saved. The storage errors seem similar to an issue that affected some users following updating to Android 14 back in October 2023.

The Reddit users then asked for help and compared notes to see if they could find a workaround. One user claims: “Pixel Support's line of troubleshooting questions have been very basic and they don't seem to recognize that it's a widespread issue caused by the January update.” 

Problems since Jan 1st Play System Update from r/GooglePixel

However, at the moment a factory reset seems like the best option but it’s not an ideal solution as it has caused some users to lose irreplaceable data.

Users of the Google Pixel 5,6,7 models and the latest Pixel 8 and Pixel Fold series have all been reporting problems, while some claim that only people with multiple user profiles lost access to storage. While the January 2024 update is believed to be the cause of the issue, it hasn't yet been rolled out to all users as many Pixel users are still using the older November 2023 version and might want to stick with it for now.

Google has, as of yet, made no comments about the issue and while a bug fix is likely in the pipeline there are currently no details on if and when it could be implemented.

You can check which version your device is running by going to Settings > Security & privacy > System & updates. If you have downloaded the update and haven’t experienced problems we still suggest you backup your device straight away.

Given this is the second time recently such a serious issue has affected Pixel phones it raises questions about Google’s testing of the updates before their rollout. Depending on how widespread the problem is it could seriously dent confidence in Google, especially as one of the Pixel 8’s touted features is seven years of updates.

While problems like this are thankfully rare, they serve to illustrate the importance of backing up your data to ensure you don’t lose important files or pictures and if you’re unsure of what cloud storage service is best for you, check out our best cloud storage services in 2024 guide.

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Staff Writer, Mobile Computing

James Ide is a writer for TechRadar specializing in phones and tablets, having previously worked at The Daily Mirror since 2016, covering news and reviews.  

James loves messing with the latest tech, especially phones due to their incredibly rapid pace of development.

When not surrounded by various devices and/or tinkering with gadgets while putting them through their paces, James has a love of handheld consoles.

He is almost the textbook definition of a geek, who loves sci-fi, comics, games and of course, all things tech. If you think you have a story for him or just want to challenge him at Smash Bros, get in touch.