All Android 13 launch devices can come with Virtual A/B support

Google reportedly made virtual A/B support for GMS licensing mandatory on devices launched with Android 13. With this, Android 13 launch devices from manufacturers like Samsung and Oppo could finally support seamless updates, after several years behind the competition.

For those unaware, Google introduced an A/B partition scheme with Android 7.0 Nougat to speed up software updates. The company has added support for duplicating certain partitions into an “A” partition and a “B” partition. Your active partition is the partition you are currently using, and the inactive partition can be updated in the background and then switched with a quick reboot.

This implementation significantly speeds up software updates on Android devices. However, some OEMs have yet to adopt this approach. Samsung devices, for example, do not have A/B partitions and take significantly longer to apply software updates, rendering devices unusable for several minutes. Google is now aiming to change that by mandating virtual A/B support for GMS licensing on devices launching with Android 13.

Google previously tried to force virtual A/B support on all devices launched with Android 11. However, the company backtracked on this requirement and updated Android’s Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) 11 to recommend, but not enforce, support for system A/B updates. . For this reason, some Android OEMs have yet to implement virtual A/B support and, by extension, seamless update support on their devices.

Although Android 13’s CDD still doesn’t require OEMs to offer virtual A/B support, a new report from Hope reveals that Google is now making it mandatory for GMS licensing on Android 13 launch devices. To that end, the company has added new tests to the Vendor Test Suite (VTS) that make virtual A/B support mandatory for Android 13 launch devices.

The report notes that although these tests were merged before the launch of Android 13, they remain in place even after its launch, unlike what happened during the development of Android 11.” This means that all devices launched with Android 13 will need to pass these tests to achieve GMS certification.

Indeed, Google will require OEMs launching devices with Android 13 to offer virtual A/B support if they wish to provide Google Mobile services. The only exception, as Hope notes is “Android 13 launches devices that shipped with older vendor software, thanks to exclusions from the VTS test following the Google Requirements Freeze (GRF) program.

With virtual A/B support becoming a requirement on Android 13 launch devices with GMS, seamless updates should finally be available on devices from all OEMs. For more information on virtual A/B and how it speeds up software updates, see the Hope blog linked below.

Going through: Hope