The next public update to Android will allow itself to update without requiring massive amounts of data storage to do so. Instead of storing all the update data for changes to the Android device’s OS, this “Streaming OS Updates” feature will do something new. As Google’s Android developers have outlined this week, Android 8.0 comes with “the necessary platform changes to conduct streaming updates.”
Google sends out OTA (over-the-air) software updates to Android devices from time to time. Generally these updates need to go through the manufacturer first, then quite possibly the data carrier. Between steps – and sometimes even without these extra steps – OS updates can be rather large.
The system known as A/B system updates, aka seamless updates, will have an update to allow users to get these updates without needing large bits of space on their phone. With the newest update, streaming A/B writes blocks straight to B instead of storing data on A as one giant file in the phone’s DATA folder.
As this A/B streaming update action occurs, users can continue to use their device without interruption. As these updates occur, the user only needs approximately 100 KiB of metadata storage – which is essentially nothing in the grand scheme of things.
As Google’s latest update in Android Tuning suggests, this new method will only need time to reboot when an updated disk partition is completely loaded.
BONUS: This method is essentially failsafe as it allows part-by-part backups. “If the OTA fails, the device is still useable since it will boot into the pre-OTA disk partition.”
How do you I get this newest update? According to Google, it’ll be included in Android 8.0 straight out the gate. Meanwhile everyone with Android 7.0 or later has support for streaming updates just so long as they have the latest correct version of Google Mobile Services (GMS) installed.
In other words – if you have a device with Android 7.1 or later, you likely already have this update. There’s nothing you need to do to get it, because you likely already have it right now. If you’ve updated your device’s software through Settings, you’re golden.
The big change between what Google Pixel devices called “seamless updates” and this is marketing. All Chromebooks also use this system right out the box – it’s already there. While with the launch of Android this system wasn’t public, now it is, for all devices Android 7.1 and later.