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Android OS updates function a bit differently than other operating system iterations these days. With Windows, OS X, iOS, Linux distros or just about anything else, an OS update brings new core functionality (and potentially a redesigned interface). While this is still somewhat true of Android, Google has been increasingly using Play Services to roll out new system-wide features. Additionally, they’ve moved a lot of functionality to individual app updates, rather than lumping them in with the system.

In the early days of Android, if you got any new features, nearly all of them would come from OS updates. However, over the last year, here is a non-comprehensive list of apps and features that have either been improved or added without an OS update:

  • Gmail
  • Calendar
  • Messaging (Hangouts)
  • Maps
  • Keep
  • Drive
  • Google Now
  • Chrome
  • Play Store
  • Introduction of Play Games
  • Synced notifications
  • Geofencing.

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