Google apparently requires virtual A/B licensing on Android 13 smartphones. Samsung and Oppo could finally debut Android 13 devices with Seamless Updates after years of falling behind.
Google introduced Android Nougat’s A/B partition structure to speed up software updates. The company introduced functionality for duplicating “A” and “B” partitions. The inactive partition can be updated in the background and switched to with a short reboot.
This improves Android software upgrades. Some OEMs haven’t adopted this strategy. Samsung smartphones don’t have A/B partitions and take longer to upgrade, making them unusable for many minutes. Google will require virtual A/B capability for GMS licensing on Android 13 devices.
Google required virtual A/B on all Android 11 devices. The business then changed the Android 11 CDD to promote, but not require, A/B system updates. Some Android OEMs have yet to integrate virtual A/B and Seamless Updates on their smartphones.
Seamless Updates install a new system update on an inactive partition of your phone while you use the active partition regularly. Once the update is installed on the dormant partition, you’re prompted to restart your device, and your phone swaps to it during reboot. This method skips the “installing” screen.
Seamless Updates take more space than regular updates. Samsung seems to still use the original updating method because of this. Virtual A/B partitions partially address this challenge, Rahman says, requiring less storage than A/B partitions initially utilized for Seamless Updates but more space than earlier solutions.
In 2020, Google announced virtual A/B partition support would be the only OTA update option. So while Mountain View isn’t mandating Seamless Updates, it’s not allowing other methods.