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Android 13 could finally bring seamless updates to all brands (even Samsung)

Samsung has long held off on implementing this update method, but that could change soon.
By
September 21, 2022
Android update installing
Robert Triggs / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • Google is reportedly mandating virtual A/B partition support in Android 13.
  • This function is key to enabling Seamless Updates on Android devices.
  • This could mean that even Samsung embraces a more streamlined system update process.

Google has offered Seamless Updates in Android for years now, allowing Android phones to receive and install updates in the background and simply restarting to boot into the new update. However, some brands like Samsung have shied away from this functionality, but that could change with Android 13.

Esper editor Mishaal Rahman has reported that Google is now mandating virtual A/B partition support in Android 13. This feature is key to enabling Seamless Updates (also known as A/B updates) on modern Android devices.

What are Seamless Updates?

Seamless Updates see a new system update installed on an inactive partition of your phone in the background, with the active partition still running software and allowing you to use your phone normally. You’re then prompted to restart your device once the new update is installed on the inactive partition, with your phone swapping to this partition during the reboot process. This method means that you don’t need to watch an “installing” screen for a few minutes.

Unfortunately, Seamless Updates do require more storage space than the conventional update process. And it seems that this is the reason why companies like Samsung have stuck to the original update solution to this day. However, virtual A/B partitions partially address this concern, Rahman notes, requiring less storage than A/B partitions initially used for Seamless Updates but still needing more space than previous solutions.

Does your phone support Seamless Updates?

2728 votes

Google said back in 2020 that virtual A/B partition support will be the only OTA update method it supports in the future. So while the Mountain View company isn’t outright mandating Seamless Updates per se, it doesn’t seem to be leaving wiggle room for other methods.

Either way, it’s worth reading the Esper article here if you want a more detailed understanding of what this means for system updates in the future.