Google’s Pixel phones have long suffered from frustratingly slow seamless over-the-air (OTA) update installation times, often taking over an hour. But the latest Android 14 QPR2 beta update finally implements changes to significantly speed up this process on Pixel devices.
Seamless Updates Designed to Keep Phones Usable During Installs
Seamless updates were introduced in Android 7.0 Nougat in 2016 to keep devices functional during system updates. Using A/B partitioning, OTAs can install in the background while the user continues normal activity without interruption.
This approach brings advantages like continuing to use the phone during installs and protection from failed updates bricking devices. But despite the benefits, seamless updates were still exceedingly slow on Pixel phones.
Hour-Long Wait Times Frustrated Pixel Users
Despite seamless updates ostensibly allowing normal phone use during OTA installation, Pixel owners still faced hour-plus wait times staring at the install screen before being able to reboot into the updated system.
This defeated the purpose of seamless updates. Having to sit idle while updates took ages to finalize negated the promised usability. Many users vented frustrations online over the absurbly long installation times.
Android 14 QPR2 Beta Speeds Up Installs Considerably
But reports emerging on Reddit indicate the latest Android 14 QPR2 beta dramatically speeds up seamless update installation on Google’s Pixel phones. Users cite installs completing under 10 minutes in most cases.
This major improvement finally delivers the seamless experience Google initially advertised. Pixel users can now continue using their phone with only a brief interruption to reboot into the updated OS.
Android Code Changes Enable Faster Compression
Google hasn’t officially commented on the faster install times. But code sleuths discovered changes made in Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code last December to enhance the update process.
Specifically, Google updated the code to leverage two processor threads for compression instead of just one. This allows installing updates in the background to happen much quicker.
The code optimizations appear to have finally rolled out in the Android 14 QPR2 beta, significantly cutting down install times.
Faster Updates Make Pixels More Competitive
With update installs no longer acting as a hindrance, Pixel phones can better compete with alternatives like Samsung’s Galaxy line that have historically offered faster OTA installations.
Smooth, seamless updates were a key Pixel selling point. Now that Google has remedied the poor user experience, its phones finally deliver on this promise.
Future Proofing to Handle Larger Updates
As Android updates grow larger due to new features and capabilities, reducing install time is crucial for usability. Google’s changes future proof the process to handle expanding OTAs while keeping devices responsive.
With mobile processors advancing rapidly, the two-thread compression approach also takes advantage of improved performance for quicker installs.
Overall, the update streamlining brings Pixels in line with the seamless experience users expect. Smoother updates bolster the premium user experience Google aims to provide.