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Upcoming Nexus phones support exclusive Android 7.0 feature

by on24 August 2016

“Seamless updates” only for new devices

Earlier this week, Google released the first over-the-air updates of its fresh Android 7.0 N operating system to owners of a Nexus 5, 5X, 6, 6P, 9, Nexus Player, General Mobile 4G or Pixel C tablet. But the operating system will support one key new feature exclusively given to the company’s upcoming Nexus smartphone devices, at least for now.

Android 7.0 enables dual partitions for faster OTA updates

Beginning with Nougat, the Android operating system now supports “seamless updates” that will make the entire updating process more streamlined, thanks to a decision by Google to create double partitions on supported devices. The company says the OS now uses a pair of SquashFS partitions, where the Android system executes from an “online” partition while new builds are applied in the background through a redundant “offline” partition. This allows Google to send devices new build updates in the background and then quietly install them to the secondary partition without any user involvement.

When a device reboots after background installation, it boots into the redundant partition which then becomes the “active” one and flips the current partition into the “redundant” one to await any further updates later on. This eliminates the need to use the system recovery environment and serves as a failsafe for updates to be automatically rolled back in case of flashing errors. In addition, the new Android Runtime (ART) in 7.0 uses a “profile-guided compilation” system (PGO) that basically eliminates the need to recompile all of a device’s installed apps every time a new update is applied.

However, due to the requirement of having to flash dual partitions, seamless updates will not be supported on any current Android devices.

llabtoofer android 7 dual partitions

Source: MaximusHD ROMs developer (via Twitter)

The feature was demonstrated in a Twitter post by LlabTooFeR, developer of MaximusHD ROMs. While the developer insists that the feature is a “waste of storage,” it is unclear how much space Google is allocating to the “redundant” partition at any given time, and whether or not partition sizes can be dynamically adjusted in the background to give more room to the “active” one after updates are applied.

Nexus 2016 smartphones arrive in October

On Monday, internal sources informed NexusBlog that Google will offer its upcoming Nexus smartphones, codenamed “Marlin” and “Sailfish,” on the Google Play store in 32GB versions for $599 and $449, respectively. It is possible that Google will offer at least some 64GB options as well, but for now the 32GB model prices are the only ones that have been reported to date.

Last modified on 24 August 2016
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