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Google: Nexus 6P, Galaxy S7 probably won’t get Android N’s coolest feature


Samsung Galaxy 9

At I/O 2016, Google showed off its new seamless updates feature for Android N – but current Nexus devices won’t get it.

Speaking to Android Police, Google confirmed that all existing Nexus devices – including the flagship Nexus 6P – will miss out on the new feature. This almost certainly extends to new phones like the Galaxy S7 too.

Seamless updates allows an Android phone to download and install new software versions in the background, cutting down the faff of upgrading. Unfortunately, the method seamless updates operate on puts a “bit of a technical bear” on existing smartphones, as AP reports. That means Google won’t officially support the feature on any existing Nexus device – and it’s likely current third-party phones won’t get it either.

Here’s what you need to know:

What are seamless updates and how do they work?

When you update an Android phone today, it goes like this: you wait for an OTA update notification, download the file in the prompt, reboot the device, and wait an age for the update to actually install.

With seamless updates, all of this work happens in the background. The idea is that phones running on Android N straight out the box will have two system partitions – one online, one offline. You’ll use the online one for, well, whatever you like – texting, playing Flappy Bird, downloading cat memes.

Meanwhile, the offline partition will be updated by the system, meaning new software versions can be downloaded and installed in the background. So when you restart your phone, you’ll have the new version straight away – no slow installation process required.

Nexus 6PGoogle's Nexus 6P (2015)

It’s actually a feature that already exists on Chrome OS devices, but Google decided it would be a good idea to borrow it for smartphones. The problem is that Nexus phones aren’t dual-partitioned, so it can’t support the feature.

In fairness, a user could plug their phone into a computer and repartition the entire phone, but Google probably doesn’t want to encourage users to risk bricking their handsets. We’re actually only likely to see seamless updates on phones running Android N straight out of the box – existing phones need not apply, we’re afraid.

Related: Android N Name

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What did you think of Google’s recent I/O 2016 keynote? Let us know in the comments.


May 20, 2016, 4:05 pm

You call this Android N's coolest feature? The ability to do updates in the background? Really, i just let it do it when i don't need the phone (like taking a shower, sleeping or whatever). And I certainly don't think an OTA takes "forever". How about support for Vulkan graphics? Now there is one feature i certainly hope I won't miss out on (Galaxy S7 Edge)


May 20, 2016, 11:17 pm

Installing the monthly updates on my Nexus 6P is pretty easy, so...I really don't care about this. And you really think this is N's "coolest" feature? How about stacking notifications, better multi-tasking, multi-window, better performance, etc?


May 21, 2016, 3:57 pm

OK, it's kinda cool, but surely the least accessed feature of any phone? Just now it's a small inconvenience that affects you once every few months. Hardly game-changing.

Prem Desai

May 22, 2016, 8:05 am

Pointless feature for me.

I'd be happy to get ANY update after a year of ownership of an Android device - be it background, foreground or in your face .....!!!

Raymond Mathias

May 22, 2016, 5:28 pm

Nexus smartphones are now up for sale online only at NexusPhoneOffers;com

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