Why Do Pixel Updates Take So Long?

August 19, 2023
David Sunnyside

If you have one of Google’s Pixel phones, it probably comes with the promise of three years of OS and security updates. These updates typically roll out every month. This is a much better update cadence than most other Android devices, but it can still take a while to install the patches and optimize apps.

What takes so long? The answer lies in how Android updates are installed. Google’s Pixel phones are usually updated using a process called seamless updates. This method uses virtual A/B partitions to reduce the time it takes to update an entire system image. It also reduces the size of the update by using a compression algorithm.

This method has been around for a while, and it works very well. It is, however, not perfect. For example, if your Pixel phone is on low battery when it’s updating, the update can sometimes be interrupted and fail to complete successfully. This is why it’s a good idea to plug your Pixel phone into a power source before starting the upgrade.

The Pixel 3 line of phones is already done getting updates, but the Pixel 2 and the newer Pixel 4 and 5 will continue to get updates until 2023. The Pixel 2 will receive its last update in May 2023, and the newer Pixels will be supported until October 2023. Google hasn’t promised any longer than that, but the company has rolled out critical security updates beyond that date on past Pixel devices.

David Sunnyside
Co-founder of Urban Splatter • Digital Marketer • Engineer • Meditator
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