May 17, 2015

How Android OTA Updates work

Presentation at Embedded Linux Conference 2015 by Andrew Boie from Intel Corporation.

AOSP is distributed with the source code and tools for full (whole image) and incremental (binary patch) secure over-the-air (OTA) software updates, specifically an alternate boot target Recovery Console, the updater logic itself, and tools to create software updates. There is no publicly available documentation for how this mechanism is supposed to be integrated. This presentation gives a detailed end-to-end description of how software updates are created, digitally signed, and applied to the device. It includes a discussion on the plug-in architecture and Edify language which allows builders to customize the OTA updates with platform-specific features. This is an updated version of a talk presented at ABS in 2012, with details on new OTA features including block-level OTA updates in Lollipop.

Andrew Boie
Intel Corporation
Andrew Boie is a software engineer and scrum master for the Intel Android-IA project hosted on, which aims to support Android on Intel Core and Atom platforms. Prior to working at Intel Andrew worked for Garmin International as an engineering team lead on Android Eclair-based Nuvifone projects. He spoke at ABS 2011 on the topic of Android OTA Software Updates.

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