Android O has a hidden feature that will fix an age-old smartphone headache

Android O hides a secret feature that could end update woesGoogle

Google is working on a new feature of its next major OS upgrade that could put an end to frustrating storage issues when trying to update a smartphone or tablet. Dubbed "streaming updates", the feature is intended to stop users falling foul of storage woes when attempting to download large over-the-air (OTA) system updates.

Currently when a device's remaining storage capacity is not enough to update files users will receive a pesky "insufficient space" error. This usually results in users having to dip into their photo library or app collection to cull larger files and free up more space.

However, the new process, which is intended to roll out with the upcoming Android O (8.0) revamp, should put an end to update woes by utilising a dual-partition system which was introduced with Android Nougat (7.0).

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To cut through some of Google's official jargon, the A/B system essentially allows users to download an update to an offline partition (B), while still using their device normally on the online half (A). This also limits the chances of the device running into system-crashing errors during the necessary post-update reboot.

The addition of "streaming updates" takes this one step further by streaming OS updates to the offline partition without actually storing the entire data set. In short, if an update is 1GB in size, the new process will only require a tiny fraction of equivalent overall storage space. Google estimates that "roughly 100 KiB of metadata" is enough, which is roughly 0.0001GB.

Android O is currently in beta and is expected to debut on a number of Android flagships in the coming months, including Google's upcoming Pixel 2 smartphone range. The jury is still out on what confectionery-based moniker will replace the "O", but Oreo is the early favourite. Yum.

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