While most of us are probably longing to get new Android updates as fast as possible, there are some people out there who would prefer to test a release before committing to it full-time, especially when it comes to betas. System administrators managing a company's fleet of devices, people who simply don't want to deal with broken apps due to a new Android version, or developers who would rather not forgo their stable daily drivers to test their products against beta OS releases could benefit from a change to Google's Dynamic System Updates (DSUs). In the future, OEMs might be able to let you install OTAs without touching your actual stable build, allowing you to try a new release before fully switching to it.
DSUs allow you to boot AOSP builds by creating a temporary system partition, quite similar to bootable Linux USB sticks that let you test a distro without committing to it. This feature works in conjunction with Generic System Images (GSIs), barebones Android releases that should be able to run on all Treble-equipped phones. GSIs are mainly intended for developers; once you reboot your phone, it will boot back into your regular partition with your original files and system intact, so any apps you install or files you save on the GSI won't stick around.
Ever wanted to try a new update to see the new features but didn't want to deal with the hassle of downgrading if things go wrong? Google is working on making it possible to try new Android updates before committing to the update! https://t.co/A87haswGyL
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) September 23, 2019
Google is looking to further improve this functionality and make lives easier for developers and regular users alike. XDA Developers spotted an AOSP commit titled "Mount multiple DSU partitions when present." It details how DSU partitions can include product and vendor partitions along with the system in the future. This could potentially allow you to stick with an Android version mounted on the DSU partition. To make this really useful, Google is working with OEMs and might let them publish Android 11 betas running their own vendor and product images on DSU partitions. A Google engineer states the ultimate goal is to allow users to decide if they want to commit to an update, making it easy for them to downgrade should something go awry in whatever new build they install.
It's likely we won't see this feature for some time since Google only allows GSIs to be mounted on DSU partitions at the moment. An Android developer also states in a comment on the commit that the changes are a long way out and that using the DSU partition in this manner is beyond the team's current development scope. Still, it's great to see Google working towards simplifying beta workflows and making it easier for enthusiasts and developers alike to test a new system update before deciding to fully switch to it. Hopefully, the company sticks with this plan.
- XDA Developers