Android Nudges Towards Exclusive Support for Seamless Updates, but Samsung May Still Dodge the Transition

Navigating Android's Seamless Updates: Will Samsung Embrace the Transition?

While Android has long championed Seamless Updates as a standard for system updates, Samsung has notably resisted adopting the A/B system across its devices. As Android moves towards making A/B Seamless Updates the sole supported update mechanism, Samsung’s stance remains defiant, raising questions about its future compliance.

In essence, Seamless Updates enable Android phones to download and install system updates in the background while the device remains operational, applying the update upon reboot. Despite the potential for longer update times, this method significantly reduces device downtime and includes safety measures like the ability to revert updates in case of issues. Google has continuously refined Seamless Updates, with recent improvements yielding faster update installation on Pixel devices.

However, Samsung has persisted in eschewing Seamless Updates, with even its latest Galaxy S24 series omitting support.

Android’s latest move suggests a potential shift that could compel Samsung to reconsider. A recent comment in the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) hints at Android’s intention to eliminate support for “non-A/B” updates, signaling a future where only Seamless Updates variants would be accommodated.

As noted by Mishaal Rahman, Samsung might still find ways to sidestep Seamless Updates. The company could devise its own update mechanism tailored to its devices or circumvent Google’s changes in relevant Android iterations.

Enforcing A/B updates on Samsung would necessitate Google’s inclusion of such requirements in Android’s compatibility criteria or through Google Mobile Services (GMS) licensing agreements for its apps. Although Google initially pursued this direction with Android 13, it ultimately refrained from mandating it, allowing Samsung to persist in its omission of Seamless Updates in subsequent Galaxy releases.