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seamless updates

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Android 7.1 feature spotlight: A closer look at seamless updates, partition changes, and new fastboot commands

During the I/O 2016 Keynote presentation, and again at the October 4th Pixel announcement, Google made brief references to newly added support for seamless updates in Nougat. To make this work, many changes had to be made to the structure of Android and its assorted system partitions. As a result, there have also been some changes to the fastboot utility many of us use when new factory images become available. This post covers a few of the technical details and also demonstrates some of the ways to use the new features.

How it works

Seamless updates are accomplished by creating a second set of logical partitions in device storage.

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Current Nexus Devices Will Not Get The New Seamless Update Feature From Android N

Speaking to Google at the Android team's office hours event, we learned that Android N's new seamless update feature, borrowed from Chrome OS, will not be introduced on any current Nexus devices. While the benefits of seamless updates' usage of dual system partitions to allow OS updates to proceed in the background are substantial, they're also a bit of a technical bear to put on existing smartphones. Implementing seamless updates on the Nexus 5X or 6P, for example, would require repartitioning the entire phone, and wouldn't be possible for an end user to complete without hooking the phone up to a computer, allegedly - it would just be a pain, in short.

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