Android's new file system could let you play games before the download finishes

Call of Duty Mobile
Call of Duty Mobile (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has been spotted submitting patches to the Linux kernel to support an Incremental File System.
  • In the documentation, it references the ability to run apps before they have fully downloaded.
  • The Incremental File System could be used to allow users to start playing a large game while they wait for it to finish downloading.

Mobile gaming is big business, and as phones get more powerful, and the popularity grows, so do the size of the games. It's not uncommon to see games on the Play Store weighing in at several gigabytes these days, and in some cases, that means waiting a lengthy time for the game to download and install.

Even on the fastest connections, it can take several minutes for the download to complete, and that's just too long when you're ready to play right now. Fortunately, Google is working on a way to remedy this situation with a new file system in Android.

Recently, the Incremental File System was uncovered by our friends at XDA-Developers who noticed some new patches Google submitted for the Linux kernel. In the documentation, it makes references to executing a program before it is fully downloaded, and it sounds a lot like what Microsoft and Sony already do with its game consoles.

Special-purpose Linux virtual file system that allows execution of a program while its binary and resource files are still being lazily downloaded over the network, USB etc.allow running big Android apps before their binaries and resources are fully downloaded to an Android device

Having the option to play the beginning of a game while you wait for the rest of it to download would be a massive improvement for mobile gaming on Android. It would make it possible to have that instant gratification of starting a game immediately, or allowing you to try out a game without waiting to download a few gigabytes worth of data.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem likely that we'll see it debut on Android 11. Incremental storage is still a work in progress, and most big features for Android 11 are nearing the final stages in preparation for the launch later this year. It's more likely that we'll see the Incremental File System introduced in 2021 in Android 12, at least we hope it's ready by then.

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Jason England