Over the weekend XDA posted an intriguing rumour about Google’s new Pixel phones, the ones supposedly making their début on October 4th.
Anyone who’s ever used a custom recovery to backup their Android device or flash a new ROM onto it will be familiar with the more critical partitions in an Android installation—/boot, /system, /recovery, etc. Even if you’ve never modded your Android phone or tablet you’ve probably at least seen the stock recovery; on a Nexus device it’s the screen showing the robot with the spinning gears in its belly, most often seen during the flashing of an OTA update or a factory reset.
The new Pixel phones will have 2 system partitions, 2 boot partitions, 2 vendor partitions, 2 modem partitions, etc. One set of partitions will be active—the set of partitions that are currently used to boot the device. When an update is published, the update will be applied to the second set in the background. Once the update has been applied, a prompt will appear asking to reboot. The reboot will not include booting to recovery. Instead, the device will switch which set of partitions are used to the second set and you will quickly, perhaps nearly instantly, boot an updated device.
Pretty cool, right? You’ll still be able to use your Pixel phone while a software update is being applied in the background. And for modders the news is even better: if those second set of partitions could be hijacked the savvy user would suddenly have a proper dual-booting device. That would also be pretty cool!