According to reports, Google is requiring virtual A/B support for GMS licencing on devices that ship with Android 13. After falling behind the competition for a few years, Android 13 launch devices from companies like Samsung and Oppo may finally be able to get updates in a seamless way.
Google requires virtual A/B GMS licencing for Android 13 devices
Google introduced Android Nougat’s A/B partition structure to speed up software updates. The company introduced functionality for duplicating “A” and “B” partitions. The inactive partition can be updated in the background and switched with a short reboot. This improves Android software upgrades. Some OEMs haven’t adopted this strategy. Samsung smartphones don’t have A/B partitions and take longer to upgrade, making them unusable for many minutes. Google will require virtual A/B capability for GMS licencing on Android 13 devices.
Google requires virtual A/B on all Android 11 devices. The company then changed the Android 11 CDD to promote, but not require, A/B system updates. Some Android OEMs have yet to integrate seamless updates and virtual A/B testing on their smartphones. Esper reports that Google is mandating virtual A/B support for GMS licencing on Android 13 launch devices, even though the Android 13 CDD doesn’t require it. The company has added new tests to the Vendor Test Suite (VTS) that require Android 13 launch devices to have support for virtual A/B.
Although these tests were incorporated before Android 13’s introduction, they “stay in place even after its launch, unlike Android 11’s development.” All Android 13 devices must pass these tests to be GMS-certified. OEMs launching Android 13 smartphones must enable virtual A/B if they want Google Mobile Services. Esper observes that “Android 13 launch devices ship with outdated vendor software due to GRF carve-outs in the VTS test.”
Seamless Android updates Availability
Seamless updates should finally be available on devices from all OEMs, with virtual A/B support becoming a requirement on Android 13 launch devices with GMS. Check out the Esper blog for more information on virtual A/B and how it speeds up software updates.