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.
Google'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.
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