A week ago, Google astonished everyone by releasing the first beta version of Android 14 QPR2. They also surprised those who were updating to the new build by releasing it with an installation time that was among the fastest ever recorded. We now have a better understanding of how Google was able to achieve such remarkable outcomes, thanks to a report written by Artem Russakovskii, the founder of Android Police. In the end, it all comes down to a great deal of optimization.
There were a lot of folks who remarked that the process of installing the first QPR2 build on the Pixel phone was far quicker than it normally was. It took a few minutes for many people to install the new release, which ranged from a little more than five minutes to less than twenty minutes for the majority of people. This is in contrast to the thirty minutes or even more than an hour that others need to complete the installation process. Artem Russakovskii had conversations with anonymous individuals at Google, who informed him that the reduction in installation time can be attributed to three different enhancements.
I reached out to my Google Android contacts in order to get more information on the specifics of what was changed and the extent to which each improvement contributed to the acceleration. They were quite helpful in providing me with the information I needed. These three enhancements are the most important ones. — Artem Russakovskii (@ArtemR) on November 17th, 2023.
One of the things that he mentions is that Android does compression processes in parallel for this new installation approach. The fact that over-the-air updates have to compress thousands of little blocks results in a 26% reduction in the amount of time required for installation, according to Google’s internal studies. Google also does operations in batches for these same little blocks, which is another example. Consequently, this results in an additional savings of 24%, since the smaller writes of 4KB are consolidated into larger operations that write 800 KB.
The most significant enhancement, on the other hand, is only available on more recent smartphones. Artem has confirmed that it is available for the Google Pixel 8 series, the Pixel 7 series, the Pixel Tablet, and the Pixel Fold. According to Artem, these gadgets have shifted away from the GZ compression algorithm and in favor of the more recent LZ4 compression approach. As a result of this, the installation time is expected to be reduced by as much as fifty percent, and it is most likely the single most important component.
Because the first two optimizations are a part of the Android Open Source Project, it is certain that all Android phones, not only Pixel phones, will experience the benefits of them in the future. The transition to LZ4 compression, on the other hand, is a component of the Pixel’s own pipeline, and it is up to manufacturers to apply or adjust for their own devices. Whether or if the Google Pixel 6 and the Pixel 5a with 5G will support LZ4 compression is another question that remains unanswered.
In addition, the precise date on which these enhancements were implemented is still not entirely apparent. Due to the fact that the faster speeds are accessible while installing QPR2, it is probable that they were already included in an earlier version of Android. Therefore, it is possible that the speed enhancement will also be available for other stable updates, such as the forthcoming security patch that will be released in December. We are going to continue to keep an eye on the situation and provide an update if the December patch allows for much faster installation times as well.