Google Effectively Pushes Manufacturers Towards ‘Seamless Updates’ With Android 11

Google has effectively forced OEMs to include virtual A/B partitions paving the way for updates to happen seamlessly

  • Devices launching with Android 11 onboard could enable updates to happen in the background while letting users to regularly operate the device
  • Google introduced the A/B partition setup back in 2016 borrowing codes from Chrome OS
  • Certain phones already ship with A/B partitions that enable quicker updates.

Google has made changes to its Vendor Test Suites (VTS) that paves way for “seamless updates” on those devices launching with Android 11 onboard, XDA Developers reports. According to the publication, Google has made it mandatory for new devices to support virtual A/B partitions, a crucial element that allows for updates to be done seamlessly. While Google in 2016 initially borrowed codes from Chrome OS that let Android devices update seamlessly, the company never made it mandatory for devices to support the feature. However, Google updates including those security patches could be effortlessly installed on devices launching with Android 11, thanks to these new changes. The report says that those devices shipping with Android 11 onboard would fail VTS if it doesn’t include virtual A/B partitions. Crucially, those devices failing VTS cannot ship Google Mobile Services which practically would indicate Google is forcing OEMs to include the setup.

Devices Launching Late 2020 Could Include New Changes

The report said that the A/B partition setup refers to the duplicated read-only partitions in the system. With the new codes, the updater basically activates an inactive partition in the background and installs the update. When the user eventually reboots the device, the system would boot from the partition where the update was performed leaving the other partition untouched.  The cycle repeats itself with each update which would indicate an seamless effort for updating the device.

For those users purchasing new Android devices in late 2020 with Android 11 onboard, the changes would mean that users would no longer be kicked out of the device during Android updates.  

The report further highlights that several modern flagships including Samsung Galaxy S20 or the Oppo Find X2 doesn’t include an A/B partition. However, the Mi A2 Lite with the A/B partition paved way for quick updates. 

Storage Became An Crucial Factor for OEMs

While the A/B setup was around for long, OEMs were said to be reluctant to introduce it into their systems due to storage issues. It was said that duplicating partitions with several key files would cause OEMs to sacrifice storage as most OEMs bundle their own apps along with those from Google.  

The publication said that the virtual A/B partitions were introduced with Android 10 alongside the dynamic partitions. It was said that these partitions work on the similar concept to A/B partition, however, they can be freely resized

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Born in India, Yogesh loves to travel and has lived in multiple countries including New Zealand and Canada. His bylines can be found on various newspapers and blogs throughout the world, including Vancouver Sun, Surrey Now-Leader, Daily Hive , Investing News Network and Rach F1.

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We’ll only know its effects on fragmentation after a year or so. Motorola doesn;t seem to care too much about upgrading the OS nor updating the security .. sad!!

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