Android N borrows Chrome OS formula for “seamless” refurbish installation

Today, Android N is murdering a “Installing System Update” screen. Earlier, Android N killed a “optimizing apps” screen. Overall we should see most faster refurbish installs.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.—With Google I/O comes a uninformed chronicle of the Android N Developer Preview—we’re now adult to Developer Preview 3. Google is job this chronicle of N a “first beta-quality candidate” and is enlivening a wider assembly to try it out. Both OTA and picture download should be accessible for the Nexus 6, 9, 5X, 6P, Nexus Player, Pixel C, and Android One (General Mobile 4G).

There are twin title facilities in this release. The initial is a new VR platform, that we’re covering in a apart article. The second will make for some good headlines: “Android copies Chrome OS refurbish system!” But it’s substantially not what you’re thinking. Yes, Chrome OS and Android are removing a small closer together, yet Android is usually borrowing a update installation routine from Chrome OS, not a partial where Google has full control over everything and delivers arguable updates.

Updates, once they are combined by your OEM, authorized by your carrier, and downloaded, will now be practical “seamlessly,” usually like on Chrome OS. You’ll be on chronicle 1.0, reboot, and you’ll be quickly, transparently upgraded to chronicle 2 though carrying to wait for any “Android is upgrading” dialog boxes.

Before a show, we chatted with Android VP of Engineering Dave Burke. “We were kind of desirous by how a Chromebooks work,” Burke told Ars. “You get a totally seamless update. You don’t do anything, we usually spin on your Chromebook and it’s adult to date.” Burke simplified that the Android group took a bit some-more than usually “inspiration” from Chrome OS, though, ”We’re indeed regulating a same code, in some places, and bringing that to mobile.”

Android N will now have twin complement partitions. One will be “online” and used for normal complement functions, while a gangling one is an “offline” complement assign that will lay in a background. With a prior single-partition system, when an OS refurbish came in, a whole phone had to be taken offline for an update. The phone would reboot into liberation mode and request a refurbish to a system. This can take anywhere from a few mins to a half hour—Samsung indeed quotes “25 minutes” in their refurbish UI. During this time, a user is sealed out of their phone calls, texts, notifications, and each other underline of their smartphone. 

With Android N’s new twin assign system, a online assign keeps regulating while a OS refurbish is practical to a offline assign in a background. The infancy of a downtime estimate can occur on a offline assign while a user is still regulating their device around a online partition.

On a subsequent update, a OS refurbish can be “applied” by usually swapping partitions. The updated, offline assign becomes a active one, and given all a estimate already happened in a background, there is no liberation mode downtime. The formerly active assign becomes a offline one, and it can be brought adult to date during a system’s convenience (we’d theory in a center of a night when a phone isn’t active).

For finish users upgrading from a Android N Developer Preview 3 to something else, the black “Android is updating” shade seen above should be a thing of a past. Previous versions of Android N also combined a new compiler that can do JIT (Just In Time) or AOT (Ahead of time) compiling, that allows it to skip the “optimizing apps” dialog after an refurbish and accumulate a apps later. With both of these changes, applying an refurbish on Android N should be a most faster routine than before—it substantially won’t take most longer than a normal reboot.

Enlarge / This is a blueprint of a Chrome OS foot process, yet Android will work likewise now.

This twin assign complement should also make updating an Android device safer. Today on Android, if something goes wrong during an update, you’ve busted your usually duplicate of a complement partition. With no operative complement partition, your device can’t boot, digest it a invalid “brick.” It’s not a very common occurrence, yet even on Nexus inclination an refurbish goes wrong sometimes. There is no liberation choice for novices—resurrecting a device involves diving into a subset of a Android developer apparatus package and doing some modernized authority line work.

Now, like on Chrome OS, a double system partitions give we excess in a box of a unsuccessful update. While regulating on complement A, Android will request an refurbish to complement B. On reboot, a bootloader will barter partitions and try to foot from complement B. If a foot adult fails, we can usually restart a phone and the bootloader will switch back to a operative complement A. Android can afterwards bond to a Internet and work on fixing the unbootable partition by requesting a refurbish again.

There is naturally a worry about a storage cost of doubling adult on a copies of a complement assign on a device. In Android N, system partitions are stored regulating a rarely dense SquashFS filesystem. SquashFS is designed for an embedded system where space is during a premium, so it should assistance cut down on some of a storage use. How most storage this all takes in total is really something to investigate. We’ll have to wait for a operative dual-partition build of Android N for accurate storage numbers.

With Nexus inclination and a few other flagship phones now removing updates each month, Android indeed updates some-more frequently than Chrome OS. Borrowing Chrome OS’ faster, safer, some-more seamless refurbish complement is nice. We usually wish some-more devices actually had the initial universe problem of carrying to wait for an refurbish to apply.

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