If you pay close enough attention to these things, you’ve probably seen Google Play Services updating from time to time on your Android devices. If you follow the more technical side of Android, you’ll know it was announced a couple of years ago to introduce new APIs and features in a way that doesn’t require a firmware update. You could be forgiven for dismissing it as a dry and technical part of the OS, but in reality it’s a crucially important part of the way modern Android works.
Play Services is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it makes the lives of developers easier and because it bypasses incompetent carriers and OEMs so that users get considerable updates. It’s a curse because they’re closed source – making it impossible to dig into the code. They make your device less your device, and that’s always a bad thing, especially in today’s world.
So much of this could be addressed if Google opened up as much of it, but that’s very unlikely to happen.