Android 13: OTA updates would be much faster

Google has changed Android’s open source base to make over-the-air updates to its Pixel smartphones much faster. An optimization that other Android smartphones could soon benefit from.

Google Pixel 7 Pro // Source: Chloé Pertuis – Frandroid

Seamless updates should improve on Pixel smartphones from Google with increased speed of installation. An improvement that could benefit everyone else android smartphones afterwards.

Google optimizes updates on Pixels

It is the Android expert Mishaal Rahman who indicated on Twitter that “Google is working on making OTA updates faster. A new set of fixes has been submitted to AOSP to speed up OTAs on devices that use the virtual A/B update mechanism with compression“.

Google is working on making OTA updates faster. A new set of patches has been submitted to AOSP that speed up OTAs on devices that use the virtual A/B with compression update mechanism. Combined, these improvements bring a full OTA install time from ~23 minutes to ~13 minutes!

— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) November 30, 2022

A so-called update OTA» ( over the air literally in the air) on Android is done remotely and almost invisibly. It downloads and installs in the background without the user having to do anything except restart their smartphone to complete the installation.

As for the virtual A/B update mechanism, it consists of two partitions (A and B), in which Android is divided. The operating system is active on partition A and the new version is downloaded to partition B. Once the installation is ready, partition B becomes active and Android restarts there.

1670257200 456 Android 13 OTA updates would be much faster
The A/B partition system facilitates Android updates (Schematic by XDA Developers)

The advantage of this method is that it saves the user from having to wait a while for their phone to install the update without being able to use it. According to Mishaal Rahman, Google has succeeded in reducing the installation time of OTA updates significantly. He gives the example of a 2.2 GB file that could be installed in 13 minutes instead of 23.

For this, Google has optimized the batch writing of so-called operationscopy-on-writeplacing them in acluster, to save four minutes in the example mentioned. The other optimization is on the use of two threads to compress the “snapshots» virtual A/B; a compression that saves an additional six minutes.

Towards a generalization ofSeamless Updates» on Android

As noted Android Centralthis fix “aims to improve Google’s Seamless Updates featurewhich allows users to just use their smartphone while a system update is downloading and installing in the background. A change that always requires restarting your smartphone once the installation is complete.

1667254014 798 The Pixel 7a would really not be at a discount
The Google Pixel 7 Pro screen (right) is very bright // Source: Chloé Pertuis – Frandroid

There are still manufacturers of Android smartphones and tablets that have not integrated the Seamless Updates in their devices, such as the slow installation. But we know that Samsung wants to bring this feature to the next version of its interfaceOne UI 6, which will be based on Android 14. The constructor is behind for several years on transparent updates and intends to catch up. It could also be that the next Samsung Galaxy S23 are entitled to the A/B partition system and therefore to these Seamless Updates.

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Android 13: OTA updates would be much faster

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