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.