Pixel OTA updates could soon be much faster

Pixel 6 Pro with city wallpaper
(Image credit: Nicholas Sutrich / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is looking to improve OTA updates by making them faster to install.
  • With this new patch submitted to the AOSP, OTA updates should see install times drop by almost 50%.
  • These improvements are for Google's Seamless Updates, which allows users to still use their phones while an update applies in the background before a quick restart.

Google is moving forward with reducing the install time for OTAs on its Pixel devices.

According to Mishaal Rahman's tweet, Google has already submitted a new patch to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) that will reduce the time it takes for OTAs to install on Pixel phones. This patch will work for devices using virtual A/B partitions along with a new compression mechanism update. Together, this will reduce the time it takes to install a 2.2GB OTA update from around 23 minutes to somewhere around 13 minutes.

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A couple of things needed to be improved to make this work, including batch writing COW (copy-on-write) operations in a cluster. This change accounts for a four-minute decreased wait time for an OTA to install. Virtual A/B devices essentially take "snapshots" of dynamic partitions that need to be updated, as Rahman explained. This effectively allows it to save some space on a user's device when compared to a typical A/B device.

The other factor involves using two threads to compress the "snapshots" taken by the Virtual A/B, which would make it quicker to install the update. This new compression mechanism works to reduce the time of an OTA to install by six minutes, wrapping up the grand total of an approximate 10-minute decrease in time for an OTA to install with this new patch.

This patch submitted to the AOSP works to improve Google's Seamless Updates, which allows users to use their phones while a new update is applied in the background. Users will still need to reboot their device once the update has finished installing, but it doesn't require users to sit around and wait for an update to install while being unable to use their phone.

A few Android OEMs have not adopted Google's Seamless Updates due to some downsides that came along with it, like slow install times, which is fuel for its latest improvements to it. That said, Samsung says it plans to introduce Seamless Updates soon, and we have our fingers crossed that it will arrive alongside the Galaxy S23 when it launches next year.

Nickolas Diaz
News Writer

Nickolas is always excited about tech and getting his hands on it. Writing for him can vary from delivering the latest tech story to scribbling in his journal. When Nickolas isn't hitting a story, he's often grinding away at a game or chilling with a book in his hand.