Fix: Unknown issue with Google Play Services

This guide will attempt to solve the “Unknown issue with Google Play Services” error on Android. Since it doesn’t have an error code, this is one of the hardest issues to pinpoint. But be patient, follow through with all the methods below and we’ll surely get to the bottom of this.

At a first glance, Google Play Services seems like a redundant app. It doesn’t really have an interface, it takes a large amount of storage space and it’s a regular client of your system’s resources. If you ever had the curiosity of checking the permissions required by Google Play Services, you’d be amazed. That number is huge.

Aside from being heavy, Google Play Services has a decent amount of errors and bugs that might just ruin your day. Some errors have an error code that makes them easier to identify and fix, but some, like the one in question, don’t. The error “Unknown issue with Google Play Services” doesn’t really point you in a direction, but the guide below will.

If you’re thinking about disabling or uninstalling Google Play Services in order to get rid of this error, don’t. It’s a very bad idea. Google Play Services is a collection of processes critical to the Android ecosystem. Aside from being responsible for updating Google Play Store and various Google apps, Google Play Services provides other core functionalities like authentication to all Google-related services and synchronization of your calendar or contacts. But perhaps even more important, it manages the access to all user privacy settings related to location based services.

With this in mind, it’s clear that disabling Google Play Services is by no means an option. Instead, follow the methods down below in order until you find a fix that will make the error go away.

Method 1: Make sure you have enough storage space and memory

Before we get a little more technical, let’s get two things out of the way.  Is your device suffering from space insufficiency? Do you have the habit of leaving a lot of apps running in the background? If that’s the case, chances are the error appears because of your own doing.

Google Play Services needs space and free RAM memory to store updates and move things around. Even if this app has priority when it comes to using system resources, given the fragmented nature of Android, that’s not always the case. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. To simply matters, try to use your build-in phone manager to achieve this. Almost every manufacturer has one, with names ranging from Phone Manager to Smart Storage.
  2. Open the app and hit Optimize (Cleanup) to make the task manager clear the right data for you.
  3. Make sure you have at least 500 MB of free storage space. If the cleanup app didn’t free that much, try to uninstall some apps you use rarely.
  4. Restart your device and try to keep the processes running in the background to a minimum.
  5. If the error reappears, move over to method 2.

If your Android doesn’t have a task manager or a cleanup app installed, you can do it yourself, but it will take some time. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Settings and tap on Storage.
  2. You should see a list with how your storage is distributed. Tap on Cached data and confirm by hitting Delete.
  3. Hit the back icon and tap on Used space. See if you can delete any files under Pictures, videos, or move them to your SD card.
  4. If you’re still under the 500 MB threshold, uninstall rarely used apps until you get there.
  5. Go to Settings > Apps (Applications) and tap on Application Manager.
  6. Swipe from left to right until you get to the Running tab. Make sure your system has at least 200 MB of free RAM.
  7. If it doesn’t, see which apps aside from the one belonging to Android use the most RAM memory. Tap on them and hit Stop.
  8. Now use your phone like you’d normally do and see if the issue repeats.

Method 2: Re-Granting permissions

A lot of times, Google Play Services will misbehave when it can’t use all the permissions it needs. Although this won’t happen unprovoked, you might have disabled them by mistake or some 3rd party apps did it for you. Here’s how to make sure that’s not the case:

  1. Go to Settings and tap on Apps (Applications).
  2. Make sure you select the All apps filter, scroll down and tap on Google Play Services.
  3. Tap on Permissions and see whether all of them are granted.
  4. If you see a permission that isn’t granted, enable it.
  5. Reboot your device and see if the error is gone.

Method 3: Clearing Data and Cache

Considering the fact that this app deals with a lot of different processes, it can easily glitch or become clunky. Although this is less common on the latest versions of Android like Nougat or Marshmallow, it might still happen. Here’s how to clear data and cache from Google Play Services:

  1. Go to Settings and tap on Apps (Applications).
  2. Make sure the All apps filter is selected and scroll down to Google Play Services.
  3. Once inside, tap on Storage and hit Manage Space.
  4. Tap on Clear All Data and wait for your device to recalculate your storage space.
  5. Go back to Storage and tap on Clear Cache.
  6. Restart your device and see if the issue repeats.

Method 4: Clearing Google Services Framework cache

Android has a separate system process called Google Services Framework. This framework is responsible for syncing and storing device data. Sometimes, force stopping it before clearing the cache will make the error go away. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Settings and tap on Application Manager.
    Note: Some manufacturers hide system processes somewhere in the app tab. If you can’t find Application Manager, go to Settings > Apps (Applications) and tap on the menu icon (three-dot icon). From there select Show System processes.
  2. Now scroll down to Google Services Framework and tap on it.
  3. Tap on Force Stop.
  4. Go to Storage and tap on Clear Cache.
  5. Reboot your device and see if the error is gone.

Method 5: Forcing Google Play Services to Update

This method can’t be followed by all of you because some Android manufacturers prefer to restrict this option. But if you’re rooted or you’re working with a version of Android that is closer to the stock version, you might be able to pull it off.

Typically, if the error originates from Google products like Google Play Store, Google+, Hangouts or Google Analytics, forcing an update might just make the error disappear. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Settings > Security > Device administrators.
  2. Deactivate Android Device Manager.
    If you don’t see Android Device Manager in that list, skip this method.
  3. Go to Settings and tap on Apps (Applications). 
  4. Make sure the All apps filter is on, scroll down and tap on Google Play Services.

  5. Tap on Uninstall updates and restart your device.
  6. Go back to Settings > Security > Device administrators and activate Android Device Manager.
  7. Wait for it to update again and see if the issue repeats.

Method 6: Uninstalling / Reinstalling conflicting apps

Sometimes Google Play Services will glitch with certain apps. If you got this far without managing to find a fix for the error, chances are the issue originates from an app. The apps most known for glitching with Google Play Services are Gmail, Hangouts, Google Maps, and Duo.

Instead of dealing with each one, you can pinpoint the cause by keeping an eye for when the error appears. If you get the “Unknown issue with Google Play Services” error while trying to open Gmail, that’s probably it. Following the same train of thought, if you get the error while enabling your location, you should probably blame Google Maps.

Another clear indicator about the culprit is if the error started appearing around the time a certain app got updated. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Go to Settings > Apps ( Applications) and select the All Apps filter.
  2. Tap on the app that you suspect it might be conflicting with Google Play Services.
  3. Start by tapping on Storage and clearing data & cache.
  4. If possible, hit Uninstall or Uninstall Updates.
  5. Restart your device and see if the issue repeats. If it does, repeat steps 1 to 4 with the rest of Google apps like Gmail, Hangouts, Duo, Drive, Gboard, Google+, Google Music etc.

Method 7: Uninstalling password managers

Some password managing apps like LastPass or 1Password are known for causing this error on older Android versions. If you’re not on Nougat, try to uninstall any password manager app that you might have on your system and see if the issue repeats.

  1. Go to Settings > Apps and tap on your password manager.
  2. Hit Uninstall.
  3. Restart your device.

Method 8: Reflash your device if Google Play Services was moved (rooted users only)

Given the fact that Google Play Services occupies over 500 MB of your device’s storage, you might be tempted to move to away from your data partition. Well, don’t! It will cause a lot of apps to misbehave and display this error. I know this because it has happened to me.

With the latest updates(starting with Marshmallow), Google Play services have become more sensitive and should not be messed with.

If you aren’t rooted Android will prevent you from doing this, but if you used an app like Root Explorer to move Google Play Services elsewhere, that’s surely the cause. If you’re in this situation, the only way forward is to re-flash your device.


Kevin Arrows

Kevin Arrows is a highly experienced and knowledgeable technology specialist with over a decade of industry experience. He holds a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) certification and has a deep passion for staying up-to-date on the latest tech developments. Kevin has written extensively on a wide range of tech-related topics, showcasing his expertise and knowledge in areas such as software development, cybersecurity, and cloud computing. His contributions to the tech field have been widely recognized and respected by his peers, and he is highly regarded for his ability to explain complex technical concepts in a clear and concise manner.