Google Will Require New Android 11 Devices to Support Seamless Updates

Posted on April 8, 2020 by Mehedi Hassan in Google, Android with 9 Comments

Google introduced an interesting new partition scheme for Android back in 2016 with Android 7.0 Nougat. The new partition scheme allowed devices to seamlessly install new software updates without making the user wait. The design, when enabled, allows users to quickly install new software updates while being able to use their phone. And when they actually have to install a new update, they can simply perform a quick reboot.

But here is the problem: many Android phone makers, including the likes of Samsung and Huawei, do not support this new partition scheme. Google is now making some new changes, starting with Android 11, to make it mandatory for phone makers to support seamless updates on new devices.

The partition scheme, known as the “A/B partition” setup, essentially allows a device to install a new update on an inactive partition while the current version of the OS runs on the active partition. After the user reboots the phone, it essentially turns the inactive partition into the active one, while keeping the older version as the inactive partition. This way, Android devices can install new updates without disrupting the user. This image from XDA Developers explains the idea really well:

Google is making this new partition scheme for Android makers by making some changes to the Vendor Test Suite — an automated test system that all new Android devices must pass in order to be compatible with Project Treble and ship with Google apps. With Android 11, Google is making the A/B partition scheme a mandatory requirement in the Vendor Test Suite — so if a phone maker does not support the partition scheme, it won’t pass the test, and therefore won’t ship with Google apps. This will hopefully force phone makers like Samsung to finally enable seamless updates on their Galaxy handsets.

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Comments (9)

9 responses to “Google Will Require New Android 11 Devices to Support Seamless Updates”

  1. kshsystems

    I have seen Cisco, Google, and other vendors implement a scheme like this.

    I think it's time Microsoft enhance their partitioning scheme for Windows 10 updates!

  2. dcdevito

    What will happen first:

    1. Seamless and timely annual updates across all Android phones?
    2. Linux takes over the Desktop
  3. bleeman

    On the other hand, maybe this will be a way to get an Android phone without all of the Google stuff installed on it ;-)

    I often read articles here, and elsewhere, stating they wish Samsung and others wouldn't duplicate all the stuff that comes with Android and I do agree with that. By the same token I get frustrated not being able to uninstall certain Google products, manufacturer products, etc. I don't use Gmail, I don't use Google search, Google docs, AT&T TV, Facebook, etc. Why can't I just uninstall all of that crap? Rhetorical, I know just venting.

  4. ezab

    Will or does the Surface Duo support the new partition scheme, “A/B partition” setup for updates? Does anyone know what version of Android is on the Surface Duo now? Just curious.

  5. crunchyfrog

    It's a brilliant strategy and one that I hope and pray Microsoft adopts. Windows Update has become the scourge of the computing worlds existence.

  6. sandy

    Finally; I'd hoped that this would've been a requirement in Android 10.

    So next year, Samsung Galaxy S12, err, S21? Plus or Ultra may be the one to upgrade to.

  7. datameister

    I think this is how Chromebooks have updated since the beginning. It will be nice to have it on Android.

    I sure wish Microsoft could find a way to do it for Windows. I suspect it is a herculean task with the way some applications like to splatter their files all over the place.

  8. trevorl

    How much extra storage does this require?