Google brought support for seamless updates to Android phones in 2016. In a nutshell this means that operating system updates can be downloaded and installed in the background, allowing you to update with relatively quick and simple reboot — and if anything goes wrong, your phone will just revert to the only version of the OS because it won’t have been erased yet.

But while seamless updates have been a possibility since 2016, it’s been up to phone makers to decide whether to make use of the feature… so far. While many phone makers have already adopted seamless updates, a few big players (including Huawei and Samsung) have not yet.

Now it looks like Google may insist that all phones support seamless updates starting with phones that ship with Android 11.


One reason some phone makers may have skipped seamless updates in the past is that they take up more storage space. That’s because phones with the feature enabled have two sets of partitions for key files — when an OS update is downloaded, it goes to the partition you’re not using.

As spotted by the folks at xda-developers, a recent change to the Android Vendor Test Suite indicates that A/B partitions will be required for phones that ship with Android 11 or later. Since that partition scheme is designed specifically for seamless updates, it sure seems like Google is going to require them moving forward.

Now theoretically this may not affect all Android phones… just the ones that receive Google certification so they can ship with the Google Play Store, Play Services, and key apps such as Gmail, YouTube, and Google Maps.

But that’s effectively all Android phones sold outside of China with the exception of recent Huawei devices.

So it looks like if you buy a new phone, odds are that it’ll support seamless updates… even if it’s a Samsung phone.

via Android Police

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8 replies on “Google may require seamless updates for all phones that ship with Android 11”

  1. In theory, revert. In practice, bricked. Oh the hell we invent never ceases to amaze!

    1. Exactly, thank you!
      It’s such an ongoing problem on the OnePlus phones, having mix-ups with the different partitions for modders. Surely there has to be a more elegant implementation that’s engineered from the bottom to the top (drivers, kernel, OS, Settings) like a proper collab with Qualcomm, Google, and OEM.

      1. That’s in the case of installing mods. OS updates to unmodded phones (i.e. about 99% of all phones) are likely to be much more reliable (if not perfect, since a few people will always have trouble upgrading anything).

        1. Yeah, my phone in its original state just stopped updating. It tried every day and failed every time. I was going bonkers, so I went to update it manually – A/B partitions, decoding storage encoded with a fucking gesture (ain’t no way), no backup because you need root for even that basic necessity. Lost my data twice before I finally moved to a custom ROM. Never looked back. And that’s my fourth device I had to “repair” with a custom ROM.

  2. Great — the OS is becoming like Windows 10, constantly requiring updating! Just maintaining the OS shouldn’t require so much bandwidth. Most users would prefer functional, efficient software, the main purpose of which is not to sell them products.

    1. And yet we still allowed ourselves to become obliged to use whatsapp, in turn obliging ourselves to the select operating systems it runs on.

    2. You misunderstand Google’s intent. Whether or not a phone gets updated is still up to the manufacturer, and most people complain they’re are not frequent enough (i.e. maybe once total, if you’re lucky).

      All Google is saying is *if* a manufacture provides an update, it will have to be seamless, which is a great thing, given it’s much safer and less painful than the old replacement method.

      If anything Android is the least updated OS there is, and will remain so, for better or worse.

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