Android O to Get Rid of Insufficient Space Errors from OTA Updates With A/B Partition

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Aug 8, 2017
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Android 8.0 is nearing its public release, but before the mega unveiling, Google is revealing some of the important features and changes that Android O is set to bring. One such feature is the new A/B partition system for updates, which is similar to how Chrome OS installs updates. With the new A/B partition, the updates will be installed in the background eliminating the need for manual download and reboot.

The upcoming Android O update will see Google integrating the new system that will get rid of insufficient storage errors related to OTA update installation. The storage errors are quite common to occur whenever there is a new update notification on the device. Small updates do not create storage issues, but big updates (1GB or more) often cause storage errors on the device. Many users often delay the installation of such updates as they do not want to delete any existing data from their device.

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In a blog post about A/B (Seamless) System Updates, Google writes:

Customers can continue to use their devices during an OTA. The only downtime during an update is when the device reboots into the updated disk partition. If the OTA fails, the device is still useable since it will boot into the pre-OTA disk partition. The download of the OTA can be attempted again. A/B system updates implemented through OTA are recommended for new devices only.

A/B system updates affect:

  • Interactions with the bootloader
  • Partition selection
  • The build process
  • OTA update package generation

With Android O, Google wants to help users with the issue by upgrading their contemporary A/B seamless update system to “streaming updates.” Earlier, users had to download the update first and then install, but the new system would be directly downloading the update onto an offline system partition. If the user is using the partition A, then the update will be installed on the partition B so that nothing is interrupted. The new OTA update will be downloaded on the inactive partition B so that it’s ready for installation as soon as the process is completed. However, a small part of such updates will still be downloaded onto the active partition and will be used as metadata information.

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