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RIP, Slow Android Update Rollouts: Mashing “Check for Update” Button Now Worth Doing Again

android check for update button

Back in 2013, now-former Android engineer Dan Morrill explained to us that mashing the “check for update” button in Android was a waste of your time. Fast forward to today and things have changed for the better, according to Googler Elliott Hughes, as long as you have the latest Google Play Services. The “check for update” button now works as you want it to!

At the time, Morrill explained Google’s gradual rollout of Android updates and the fact that within the first 24-48 hours, only about 1% of devices would ever see an update. So even though we might have told you that a new update had started rolling out, hammering on that “check for update” button every hour or few minutes wouldn’t ever do anything if the 1% had already been filled. He also explained that tapping the “check for update” button the first time was actually doing something (like rolling the dice), but subsequent taps were a waste if you missed out until the next batch (like say the next 25% of the rollout) was scheduled to start. Unfortunately, if you weren’t a part of that group either, or didn’t tap the button in time, you’d again miss out until the next batch.

Starting now, though, that all changes as Google has tweaked the “check for update” button to flag the action as “user-initiated” and will let you bypass those 1% or 25% limitations. In other words, if an update is ready to rollout, even if it’s in the early stages, you hammering the “check for update” button will send you the update. That’s huge news!

Here is what Hughes said:

One thing I haven’t seen the tech press notice is that the button in Settings to check for an update actually works now. If you’re running a current Google Play Services, you shouldn’t need to sideload an OTA or flash a system image just because you’re impatient…

How does this interact with the gradual rollouts of new releases, you ask? When a device checks in because you’ve specifically asked it to, we flag that this is user-initiated and so you’re not subject to the usual limitations. So even if we’re at 1% rollout and 1% of users already have the update, if you manually check you’ll still be offered it, even though a background check at the same time wouldn’t.

I should mention that this is more than likely just for Google products, like Pixel or Nexus devices. Your Galaxy S8 or LG G6 or HTC U11 probably still function very differently.

Hammer away!

// +Elliott Hughes

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