Android N update schedule: what it tells us about the Android 7.0 update
Original post, March 11: When Google dropped the Android N developer preview on March 9 it was also pretty open about its update timeline. Google clearly identified five monthly developer previews in advance of the final release of Android 7.0 by the end of September 2016. So what does this public timeline mean for Android N updates and when you can expect to see Android 7.0 on your device?
Don’t get too excited about seeing a monthly Android N preview update on the ninth of every month between now and July. Despite Google’s nice update timeline, things didn’t exactly go to plan last year, with several M preview updates missing the mark. Having said that, the second Developer Preview arrived only a few days late and the Developer Preview 3 arrived about a week behind schedule.
What all this tells us is that Google is still quite committed to the idea of putting out monthly sprint updates until the final wrapping comes off Android 7.0 in Q3. By getting the first developer preview out earlier this year, Google is also giving itself a couple of months head start on getting all of the necessary fine-tuning and bug squashing done with plenty of time to spare. The relatively minor changes in Dev Preview 3 show that things are already starting to get polished.
Latest Android 7.0 news
During Google I/O several tidbits of information emerged about the Android 7.0 update. For starters, Android 7.0 will introduce seamless updates so future Android updates will happen silently in the background via A/B partition switching. We’ll likely find Google’s new messaging apps, Allo and Duo, bundled with Android 7.0 and we now know Android 7.0 will feature Sustained Performance Mode for demanding VR and gaming apps as well as support for Project Tango and Daydream VR devices.
Android N update: when will I get it?
Google Nexus Android N update schedule
March 9: Android N developer preview 1 (alpha)
April 13: Android N developer preview 2 (alpha)
May 18: Android N developer preview 3 (beta)
June 15: Android N developer preview 4 (with final APIs and SDK)
July: Android N developer preview 5 (near-final build)
August/September: Final Android 7.0 AOSP build
Android N developer preview OTA updates
The Android N developer preview 3 is available for Nexus devices enrolled in the Android Beta Program. If you haven’t yet received the update, just head to Settings > About Phone > System Updates > Check for Updates to force the OTA. The factory images are also up on the Android Developers site if you prefer to do it that way (or if you flashed the first preview before realizing how easy the Beta Program is).
While the monthly Android N updates will only be available for the Nexus 6P, Nexus 5X, Nexus 6, Nexus 9, Nexus Player, Pixel C, General Mobile 4G (Android One) and Sony Xperia Z3 (D6603 and D6653), there is also evidence that Google is internally testing the Nexus 5 and Nexus 7 (2013). We’ve added information below for other manufacturers based on how long it took OEMs to get Marshmallow out following the release of Android 6.0 in September last year.
Android 7.0 update: when will I get it?
Samsung Android 7.0 update
Samsung isn’t exactly speedy when it comes to rolling out Android updates, and we sadly don’t expect that to change significantly with the Samsung Android 7.0 update.
There was a five-month timeframe between the Android 6.0 launch on September 29, 2015 and the first U.S. update to Marshmallow with the Verizon Galaxy Note 5 on March 3, 2016. Galaxy owners could easily be waiting until late February or early March 2017 for the first Samsung Android 7.0 update.
Even then, it will likely only be the Galaxy Note 6 to get it first, with the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge following a little later and the Note 5, S6, S6 Edge and S6 Edge+ after them. With any luck, the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8 Edge will both arrive in early 2017 running Android 7.0 out of the box.
Best case scenario: Five months after Android 7.0 launch (February/March 2017)
LG Android 7.0 update
LG has been pretty good with its update speed for Marshmallow, with less than two months separating the release of Android 6.0 and the first LG handset to receive it (the Sprint LG G4 on December 21, 2015). In fact, LG was the first OEM to get a carrier-based Marshmallow update out after Google. The LG V10 eventually got the update internationally in early March 2016, after the LG G3 and LG G Stylo already had Marshmallow in the U.S..
If this is anything to go by, the first LG Android 7.0 update could well be to the LG G5 in December 2016 with the successor to the LG V10 and the V10 itself likely being next on the list, alongside the LG G4.
Best case scenario: Less than two months after Android 7.0 release (mid-December 2016)
Sony Android 7.0 update
As mentioned above, some Sony Xperia owners are already being treated to an Android N preview build just as they were last year with Android M. However, for those of you not interested in installing a non-final developer version, the Sony Android 7.0 update could arrive as early as the start of March 2017, around the same time as the first Galaxy devices.
This prediction is based on the Xperia Z5 series, Z4 Tablet and Xperia Z3+ all got the Marshmallow update five months after Google first pushed it out. Of course, it will most likely arrive first on the new Xperia X series rather than the Z5 series.
Best case scenario: Five months after Android 7.0 (March 2017), plus Android N developer previews
Motorola Android 7.0 update
Moto owners will likely still get the Motorola Android 7.0 update a lot earlier than most, despite now being owned by Lenovo rather than Google. The Moto X Pure Edition got its first U.S. update to Marshmallow on December 7, 2015, but that was the unlocked version not slowed down by the addition of carrier bloatware and “optimization”.
With this in mind, Moto owners could be the first non-Nexus owners to see Android 7.0 in 2016, even beating out the LG G5. However, we’re yet to see how a Lenovo-owned Motorola handles software updates. At the very least we know the new near-stock Moto devices will run both Android N and Android O.
Best case scenario: A little over a month after Android 7.0 arrives (early December 2016)
HTC Android 7.0 update
HTC also did pretty well with its first update to Marshmallow. The unlocked Developer Edition HTC One M9 and all variants of the HTC One A9 got the Marshmallow update in December 2015. The HTC 10 arrived in April running Android Marshmallow out of the box.
If HTC follows the same path this year, the first HTC Android 7.0 update should roll out to existing devices less than two months after Android 7.0 is made official. HTC’s next flagship, presumably the HTC 11, should arrive with Android 7.0 at launch.
Best case scenario: Two months after Android 7.0 unveiling (December 2016)
Huawei Android 7.0 update
Not including the Nexus 6P, the first Huawei device to get Android Marshmallow was not even an update, but straight out of the box. The Huawei Mate 8 arrived with Marshmallow on board in November, just weeks after Google had made the update available for Nexus devices.
Best case scenario: Mate 9 running Android 7.0 at launch (November 2016), updates in February 2017
Xiaomi Android 7.0 update
Xiaomi had a pretty bad case of the hiccups when it came to the Marshmallow update, so it may not be entirely representative to base assumptions about the Xiaomi Android 7.0 update based on its most recent update performance. Despite announcing Marshmallow was in the final stages of testing back in December 2015, it wasn’t until early April that the Mi 4, Mi 3 and Mi Note finally got Android 6.0.
In the worst case scenario, Xiaomi suffers similar problems with Android 7.0 and users won’t see it until six months after Google releases it. In the best case scenario, Xiaomi meets its timeline and has the update out in late December 2016 or early January 2017.
Best case scenario: Two or three months after Google (December 2016 – January 2017)
Android One Android 7.0 update
Android One devices occupy a particular sweet spot when it comes to Android updates. Because they run stock Android, Google handles firmware updates, meaning the Android One Android 7.0 update should arrive at the same time as it does for Nexus devices with both OTA and flashable factory image options.
Best case scenario: Within days of Android 7.0 being released
When do you expect your manufacturer and carrier to get Android 7.0 into your hands?
Read next: Android 6.0 Marshmallow updates roundup