Six months ago back in August 2018, Google released Android 9.0 Pie to the public. The latest and greatest version of Google’s mobile platform featured a whole bunch of excellent new features, such as Adaptive Battery tech that stretches out battery life and AI-powered app predictions with actions that are triggered by things you do repeatedly on your phone. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, of course, since Android Pie is packed full of new features as well as enhancements to earlier features. It’s a fantastic upgrade that Android users love… or at least, they might love it when they finally get it. Android 9.0 Pie was installed on less than 0.1% of all Android devices as of the last time Google’s version distribution dashboard was updated in Q4 2018, and that figure is still believed to be in the low single digits now.
Getting new updates pushed out to Android phones is a top priority for Google, and that’s why the company introduced a new feature in Android 8.0 Oreo aimed at simplifying the process. It’s called Project Treble, and it basically separates core Android code from all of the extra custom features added smartphone makers like Samsung and LG. This way when new updates are released by Google, they can be applied to the core Android code and pushed out without having to make any big changes to the vendor enhancements. It’s an awesome feature that will hopefully have an impact down the road, but it’s also not the only way Google improved Android updates in Oreo.
Getting system updates to Android phones more quickly is obviously the top priority for Google and its vendor partners, but there’s another new feature involving updates that enhances another aspect of the software update process. It’s called Seamless System Updates, and it’s very cool.
When a smartphone installs a system update the traditional way, it’s completely unusable while the update is taking place. That’s true whether you have an Android phone or an iPhone. But Google’s new system changes the way updates are installed and applied so that the user doesn’t even know it’s happening. The Android device continues functioning just like it always does, and the next thing you know, you’re updated.
Google’s Seamless System Updates is similar to Windows or macOS updates in that downloads updates in the background while you do other things. But this new system takes things a big step further by completely eliminating downtime. The update is installed in the background using a separate partition that is a mirror image of the main partition. Once the installation is complete, the updated software is applied the next time the user’s phone reboots. It’s an elegant solution that Google first introduced in Chrome OS, but apparently not all of Google’s Android partners are as excited about Seamless System Updates as we are.
Project Treble is part of Android’s core system code now, so it’s available on every Android phone that runs Oreo or later. With Seamless System Updates, however, it’s up to the device maker to implement the feature. And as Samsung news blog SamMobile discovered, Samsung has chosen not to implement Seamless System Updates on its new Galaxy S10e, Galaxy S10, or Galaxy S10+ smartphones.
The Galaxy S10 family is a huge leap forward for Samsung. You can read all about these bleeding-edge flagship phones in our in-depth Galaxy S10 review. There’s so much new tech and so many new features packed into these phones that it’s a bit disappointing Samsung chose not to implement Seamless System Updates. Is it the end of the world? Of course not, and it certainly won’t be a deal-breaker for any potential buyers. But it’s a fantastic new feature that further enhances the Android user experience, and it would have been a great feature to have on Samsung’s 2019 flagship phones.