Over the air (OTA) software updates are usually rolled out to Android devices in phases, which has always meant that some users get the OTA notification ahead of others using the same device.
For instance, Google Pixel and Nexus users started receiving Android 8.1 Oreo a few days ago. As at the time of this writing, not all users of these two devices have received the OTA notification to download and install the updated Oreo. However, like any other Android software update, you can skip the long wait by doing it manually via the “Check for update” button in the device’s Settings menu. Unfortunately, tapping this button doesn’t always give you immediate access to the latest update as it’s supposed to be the case, but earlier this year, Google said that it will be making changes to the button so that it works accordingly.
With the revamped “Check for update” button, Google wants to make it possible for Android users to skip the usual, painfully slow rollout schedule of software updates by sending a signal that a user has manually requested to download an update. At the moment, the feature simply scans the servers to check whether the update files have been uploaded and ready for download, but with the updated version, an actual signal will be sent to Google, the result of which will be an OTA update heading the opposite direction.
In theory, this looks like an interesting move, but so far, making it happen has been a problem for Google. In fact, the “Check for update” feature should be working by now, but it isn’t – and there’s an explanation behind it. According to Google software engineer Elliot Hughes, an issue with the Google Play Services that left the feature broken is the reason Google Pixel and Nexus users haven’t been able to take advantage of the updated feature.
The good side of the story is that the issue, which had everything to do with an “API incompatibility between the System Update code and the Checking code”, has now been fixed and in fact, the button is now working for the in-house team. Testing of the button is expected to go on for weeks, which means the feature will be ready for wider rollout in early 2018. Of course, this will be bundled in a future Google Play Services update and it will not only work with all Google Pixel and Nexus devices, but also all Android phones and tablets that take advantage of Google’s OTA system.
Initially, it was widely thought that this revamped “Check for update” feature is reliant on Android Oreo. Well, this is not the case, rather, it has everything to do with the Google Play Services.