Sunday , March 18 2018

Android N Seamless Updates won’t come to any current generation hardware

Android N v2

We wrote a little yesterday about Google’s ambitious plan to allow seamless operating system updates, meaning the slow process of downloading an update, rebooting your phone and waiting for it to apply, and then starting back up again could be a thing of the past. We’ve seen this kind of technology on ChromeOS devices, and it works really well. Updates download in the background (typically when connected on WiFi), and are even applied without user intervention. It would be great to get that level of update going on Android.

While we’ll see it in future, we won’t see it on any current generation hardware, according to those at Google working on the feature. In order to achieve this feat, ChromeOS devices actually have two system partitions. When your running system receives an update, it actually applies the update to the other partition, and when the ChromeOS device reboots, it boots onto that new partition — this means updates are little more than a reboot, which take about 5 seconds in Chrome.

To do this in Android would require the same setup; two system partitions. Android phones aren’t designed that way, and to retrofit this layout onto them would have undesirable consequences, including a reduction in space available for the user, and the potential that re-partitioning the internal storage could brick the phone if not done properly, interrupted, etc.

In all likelihood, we’ll see this feature arrive on this year’s Nexus devices later in the year. These are typically released in September/October, and as soon as we know more about what’s coming up there, we’ll of course let you know.

Additional Reporting: Android Police.

Chris Rowland   Editor and Publisher

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag. He saw the transition from AMPS to GSM, loved the Motorola StarTac, and got into Palm technologies in a big way. The arrival some years later of the original iPhone, and then the early Androids, awoke a new interest in mobile technology, and Chris has been writing about it since.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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4 Comments on "Android N Seamless Updates won’t come to any current generation hardware"

newest oldest most voted
Ausdroid Reader

I don’t see why it can’t come to current generation hardware. It would be pretty easy for them to write in the code that creates the extra system partition and the system partition isn’t that big so you wouldn’t lose that much space. Worst case scenario they could have an option not to do it if you don’t want to have the seamless update ability. It would be easily reversible too with the flick of a switch if they decide to let you get rid of it as well.

Ausdroid Reader
Dean Rosolen

Repartitioning internal storage without affecting user data isn’t as easy as it sounds.

Ausdroid Reader

Sounds fantastic, if it is accompanied by an increase to 64GB minimum hard drives to enable this while still leaving a meaningful amount of storage space for the end user.

Valued Guest

While I understand the reasoning it’s a real shame. This is such a fantastic feature.

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