16 July 2020
After about four years since introduction, Google has finally made it mandatory for OEMs to support seamless updates. The support is based on the virtual A/B partition scheme that was released with Android 7.0 Nougat in 2016. It has been an optional functionality since then but as per XDA Developers, things are set to change with upcoming Android 11.
The folks have spotted a new commit message on the AOSP Gerrit that talks about the requirement of A/B partition support in future devices. It will be a mandatory step for any device that wants to pass the Vendor Test Suite (VTS) and receive Google Play certification. In other words, a device will be allowed to use Google apps and services including the Play Store and Play Services only if features support for seamless updates.
Such devices will feature two partitions i.e. A/B partitions which will be duplicate of each other. One of these will be the active partition that will be available for use to the user and another will be inactive partition. Whenever OEM will release a new software update, it will get downloaded and installed in the background within the inactive one. This will allow users to keep using their phones as usual without having to keep looking at the installation screen.
Once the installation is done, the phone will show a notification to restart the device. Tapping on the option will restart the device with the time taken for any other reboot and the partitions are swapped. The inactive partition with the new OS build becomes active and the previously active partition becomes inactive.
The main benefit of such a move is to help users save time which gets wasted while the Android system gets updated. Another reason is that it can be beneficial when an update gets corrupted. In such cases, the device becomes unusable which will not happen with A/B partition scheme as users will be able to use the inactive partition.