When Google unveiled the Pixel & Pixel XL on Tuesday, they also revealed that Verizon is the exclusive carrier partner for the phone. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy an unlocked version of the phone, but it did raise some questions about how the updates for Pixel will be handled for those that do decide on the Verizon version of the phone.
During the #madebygoogle event, Google advertised a new seamless update process in Nougat to make OTA updates as painless as they can be. Unfortunately, this is a feature that is only going to be on phones that ship with Nougat, meaning Pixel (and other new Android devices) will utilize this feature while Nexus phones can’t.
Seamless updates work by creating two partitions on the device. The active system partition is what you use every day. When an OTA happens, the active partition downloads it and then updates the dormant partition, which is a mirror image of the current active partition. When the phone is rebooted, the dormant partition becomes the active partition and the previous partition becomes dormant after applying the update.
That’s great and all, but how does Verizon factor into this? A Google rep has confirmed that Google will handle all of the monthly security updates for the Pixel, while Verizon themselves will be on the hook for bigger updates.
Monthly security updates will come from Google (for all models), and system updates will be managed by Verizon for Verizon models, and Google for unlocked models bought from Google Store.
That means no matter how seamless the updates are in Nougat, you’ll still be waiting for Verizon to push them out.