Android 11 Making A/B Partitions Mandatory to Make Updates Faster, Safer

Joanna Estrada
April 9, 2020

The VTS will fail if a device running Android 11 lacks virtual A/B partition structures, and VTS must be passed for devices to come preloaded with Google Mobile Services (GMS). A new commit in the AOSP Gerrit, titled 'Require Virtual A/B on R launches', suggests that Android 11 will check whether the device supports A/B partitions every time before it boots. This shows that the Android team at Google has made it mandatory for Android vendors to have the virtual A/B partition structure in place to pass the VTS. This way, Android devices can install new updates without disrupting the user. In a nutshell this means that operating system updates can be downloaded and installed in the background, allowing you to update with relatively quick and simple reboot - and if anything goes wrong, your phone will just revert to the only version of the OS because it won't have been erased yet.

The idea behind seamless updates is that more people are likely to install them, rather than putting it off because they'll have to experience some downtime. However, devices without A/B partitions lock users out of the phone during the update process.

But while seamless updates have been a possibility since 2016, it's been up to phone makers to decide whether to make use of the feature... so far.

Although many smartphone OEMs, including ASUS, Google, HTC, LG, Motorola, OnePlus, and Sony, already use virtual A/B partitions in their Android devices, big names like Huawei, OPPO, Samsung, Vivo, and Xiaomi still don't use the feature.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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