Android engineer talks updates and the “Check for Updates” button

November 21, 2013
5

We recently learned Android 4.4 Kit Kat had begun rolling out for Nexus 4 users. Basically, that means Google has begun offering the update in batches, and on the flip side, it likely also means that many Nexus 4 users navigated into the settings and have been repeatedly tapping the Check for Updates button. Well, Dan Morrill from Google has taken to Reddit and shared a bit about the update process and about using that button.

At risk of offering the spoiler in the beginning, that button may not actually be doing what one would hope and/or expect. According to Morrill, "once your device checks in and gets turned down, that's it until the next batch." Or in other words, once you hit that button and it tells you the device is up to date -- hitting the button again (or repeatedly) will not offer anything different -- that is, until Google decides to offer the update to another batch devices.

The catch here, the average end user is never sure when that next batch will begin rolling out. To that point, Morrill suggests checking once or twice a day at most. Further details also touch on how Google does the rollouts. Morrill mentioned how they "typically" begin with 1 percent of devices for the first day or two. This small batch is sent out and Google then watches for "return rates and resulting device checkins and error reports."

Assuming the initial 1 percent rollout goes according to plan, the process then expands. Again, the word typically was used. But in this case Morrill said the updates then go to 25 percent, 50 percent and 100 percent "over the course of a week or two." Coming by way of another Reddit posting, Morrill also had comments about clearing data for Google Service Framework. For those unfamiliar, this is a trick that many use in an attempt at forcing an update.

Again, offering the spoiler in the beginning, it was said that doing this could cause a "ton of nuisances on the device." The explanation here connects back to the primary ID that Google uses to remember the device.

As far as the servers are concerned, the device was basically factory reset. There are many downstream effects of this, but a big one is that this invalidates the tokens used by any app that uses GCM (which is nearly all the Google apps, and a ton of third-party apps.)

Bottom line here, when it comes to getting the latest version of Android as an over-the-air-update from Google -- patience is your best friend.

VIA: Engadget

SOURCE: Reddit (1), (2)


Recent Stories
  • Rodrigo Alves de Brito

    When it comes to using
    Android phones, I can only think of the Nexus line, just because of the pure
    experience and fast updates. But I am getting disappointed for the updates
    thing. In that point, Apple does it better. I had an iPhone 3GS for 14 months
    and experienced 4 or 5 updates and they were really fast and happened the same
    day they were announced. I love my Nexus 4, but now with this “delay”
    (let’s pick this word) for updates, Nexus 5 only features and also that 18-month
    upgrade window, I don´t know if my next phone will be a Nexus, or even
    Android.

    • boonesimpson

      That is a big win in the Apple column, and it because they control the hardware AND software.
      Luckily, since Google decoupled a lot of apps from android proper (keyboard, api levels, camera, photos, etc) even devices on older OS versions can still get new features.

      Apple will give you the new OS version, but not necessarily the features (hw dependent)

      Google will give you the new features, but not necessarily the OS version. (hw dependent)

      I think that Google’s “new” 18 month update window is stupid. Many phones are STILL SOLD RETAIL 18 months after release, so companies are selling you abandoned hardware!
      Sure most customers don’t know/care, but they ought to, especially when it comes to security updates.

      I would much rather see Google (and their partners who pledged “18 month” support, which few actually followed) to provide 12 months of software support AFTER the device has reached END OF LIFE.

      Otherwise, there is a big disincentive to buying an older device. No OEM wants to just throw out their unsold phones after first 90 days but with update policies that leave so many behind, they are training their customers to buy the newest phone, and not the back stock, if they want ANY support, heck your phone is abandoned before your contract is even up.

  • navetech

    Just an FYI, I stopped the Google Services, restarted my N7 and the 4.4 update showed up. I didn’t clear any data and got the update! (finally!)

    • http://www.reallyrantic.com/ Matthew

      Because this hasn’t been warned against before, either.

  • novo

    I think a Check for Updates button should also be in the Google Play Store app…