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.