Android phone updates could get much easier – iOS should learn a thing or two

Google Pixel 6 Pro
(Image credit: Future / Google)

Android phones have always had a more laissez-faire approach to new version updates than iOS devices – while iPhones bug you with annoying notifications and reminders to update, Android phones rarely even let you know that a new update is available.

However, it sounds like Google is introducing an Android feature to make updating your device a lot easier, or more accurately, making an existing feature compulsory across all Android phones. Mishaal Rahman – a big name in the phone software game – has written a blog post on Esper saying that in Android 13, the Seamless Updates feature will become mandatory.

Seamless Updates is a feature that lets new Android version updates download in the background; so your phone doesn't need to be out of action for ages as it downloads (well, except for a brief moment while it restarts).

The feature was introduced several years ago, but only for certain Android phones (like Google's own Pixels), and lots of Android phone makers have decided to avoid using the feature. However, that's set to change soon.

According to Rahman, Android 13 mandates Seamless Updates, so any phone maker that creates its own fork of the software (like Samsung's One UI or OnePlus' OxygenOS) will need to offer convenient background updates. This would, in theory, mean that every new Android phone will come with the feature.

The convenience that this would bring should encourage more people to update their Android phones – the fact that the device is taken out of action while the update downloads likely puts off lots of handset users from getting the newest version of the operating system, meaning they miss out on all the new features and security patches such updates bring.

Analysis: iOS could learn a thing or two

So it sounds like Android updates are about to get a lot more convenient, and if this Android 13 feature comes to pass, getting future updates could require very little input on your part.

Apple could really learn something from this and apply a similar approach to iOS; because upgrading to newer versions can be quite annoying.

The company's devices like to nag you to update, often promising that they'll do so automatically overnight when your device is plugged into power, but then not delivering. And iOS updates can take a staggeringly long time too.

Apple needs to follow Google's suit in making updates easier – sure, its nagging ensures that people do get the new iOS version quickly, but there's got to be a less annoying way of ensuring the best iPhones are kept up to date.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.