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Samsung Finally Adopts Android’s Seamless Updates Starting With Galaxy A55 5G: Here’s How It Works

Nearly eight years after the feature was announced, Samsung has finally adopted Seamless Updates, a feature announced by Google with Android Nougat in 2016. The feature makes the update process seem a lot quicker and without requiring a user to blankly stare at an update screen for several minutes while the phone gets updated. Sadly, this isn’t a feature that has been made available for all Samsung devices but from what we have learnt, is just limited to the newly launched Galaxy A55 5G smartphone.

Apart from adopting a slightly different design compared to other Samsung smartphones and using Exynos processors, Samsung’s Galaxy A55 5G is also the first Samsung smartphone to offer Seamless Updates. First reported by The Mobile Indian, the report claims that feature was visible after the installation of the March 2024 security patch on their Galaxy A55 5G unit. The software updates thereon showed two stages of installation with the first stage being “Downloading and Installing” while the second was a “Verification stage”. Post this, all the phone needed was a restart to complete the update process. Gadgets 360 was able to confirm this independently.

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What are Seamless Updates?

Nearly eight years have passed since Google introduced and adopted the feature. The Seamless Updates or A/B system updates have more benefits than downsides compared to regular updates or A system updates, but overall are more about convenience.

Seamless Updates, basically lets a user use his/her device while the software update gets installed in the background. This reduces the usual downtime that users face while a phone without the feature gets updated, and that means calls, messaging and other apps are unavailable during the standard update process since the phone will usually display an update screen with a progress bar. While this isn’t a problem with tiny security patches, bigger software updates do take a while. Seamless Updates also known as A/B system updates are not necessarily about speed but more about convenience. The update process is usually slower (as it happens in the background) and all it needs is a restart whenever the user has the time to take a break.

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How does Seamless Updates work?

This is all possible thanks to A/B partitions which would mean that Seamless Updates need more space. However it is also possible for OTA updates to be streamed (since Android 8.0) onto the B partition reducing the need to have a copy of the update prior to installation but just space for metadata (just 100 kiB or 0.1 megabyte).

During the update process, the new software update gets downloaded and installed on partition B, while partition A is busy running the currently available software for the user. Once the installation process is checked and complete on partition B, the system simply has to reboot and then switches to partition B, making partition A inactive and open for another update.

The beauty of the A/B process is that if at any point the freshy downloaded update fails, the system can reboot back to partition A (the older/current update) and life goes on as usual with the phone rebooting to the older software and the user not ending up with a broken phone. In the event of a failed installation on a regular A-only system update, the user also risks losing all personal data (if not backed up elsewhere).

Samsung is indeed one of the last big smartphone manufacturers to switch to Seamless Updates. Currently a number of brands like Google’s Pixel, Motorola, Nokia (now HMD), OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, Sony, and Xiaomi support it.

Samsung launched the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5 alongside the Galaxy Tab S9 series and Galaxy Watch 6 series at its first Galaxy Unpacked event in South Korea. We discuss the company’s new devices and more on the latest episode of Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available on Spotify, Gaana, JioSaavn, Google Podcasts, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music and wherever you get your podcasts.
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