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Phones shipping with Android 13 will require a technology created by...Huawei?

Huawei continues to exert significant influence on Android.
By
May 24, 2022
Huawei logo metal
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google will make EROFS the default read-only file system in Android 13.
  • The file system was originally developed by Huawei.
  • Only devices that launch with Android 13 and Google’s services will make the switch.

Google is making an interesting — and potentially controversial — decision with Android 13, deploying a file system developed by Huawei.

According to Esper, Google is planning on including the Enhanced Read-Only File System (EROFS) in Android 13, making it the default read-only system. The file system was created by Xiang Gao when he was working as an engineer at Huawei. EROFS offers significant benefits over existing file systems, including space-saving compression and speed. This could lead to much faster updates and less storage space being used.

Huawei developed EROFS for inclusion in the Linux kernel, which forms the basis of Android. Despite eventually being locked out of the Android ecosystem by US-led sanctions, the file system officially became part of the Linux kernel, beginning with Linux 5.4. It has also been used on millions of Huawei devices and is being adopted by other manufacturers.

Read more: The Huawei ban explained

Google now plans to make it the default file system for read-only partitions, such as those used by the core Android system. Since the system partition is usually read-only, compressing it is an appealing option to save space on files that only change when a system update is performed. Unfortunately, most compression systems have significant performance hits, a limitation that EROFS specifically addresses.

Google throwing its weight behind EROFS doesn’t mean that all devices will automatically use it. The change will only impact devices that launch with Android 13 by default and only those that have Google’s services built in. That means devices running AOSP (Android Open Source Project) will not use EROFS.