Google officially rolled out its Android 13 mobile operating system earlier this week. At the time of the official roll out, Google had said that it will start rolling out Android 13 update to Pixel smartphone users starting this week and that the update will arrive on devices by companies such as Samsung, Asus, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo later this year. Now, word is that Google is not letting users Pixel users to downgrade to Android 12 mobile operating system after updating to Android 13 OS. Also Read - Google releases new voices for Android apps by updating its text-to-speech engine
Usually, Google does enable Android device users to install an older version of the Android OS even after downloading a more recent version of the OS. This, of course, isn’t done directly. Instead, users can downgrade to an older version of the OS by manually sideloading the update. While this does require users to reset their phones, but the option is available to Android users who want it. Also Read - Google Stadia is shutting down: Here’s what will happen to your purchases
But with Android 13, the company is prohibiting the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and Pixel 6a users to downgrade to the latest versions of its Android 12 operating system. Google, on a developer site where it hosts Factory Images said that Pixel 6 series users will not be able to move back to Android 12 builds after installing Android 13 on their smartphones. Also Read - Google is making shopping easier than ever with five major updates to Google Shopping
“The Android 13 update for Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, and the Pixel 6a contains a bootloader update that increments the anti-roll back version. After flashing an Android 13 build on these devices you will not be able to flash older Android 12 builds,” the company wrote on the page.
While at first it remained uncertain as to why Google wouldn’t allow users to downgrade to Android 12, later security researcher @flawedworld (via Mishaal Rahman), pointed out that the move could be a part of the company’s efforts of preventing a vulnerability being exploited by hackers.
“WARNING – If this is FLASHED you CANNOT go back to an old Android build…Your device is running a vulnerable version of the bootloader. After flashing this build your device’s anti-roll back counter will be incremented to prevent previous vulnerable versions of the bootloader from being flashed on the device in the future. This will prevent flashing existing Android 12 releases,” the company wrote in its warning.
Here’s why Google won’t let you downgrade to Android 12 after updating to Android 13 on your Pixel 6, 6 Pro, or 6a: There’s a vulnerability in the old bootloader version that could be exploited if downgrading were allowed.
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) August 16, 2022
As mentioned in the warning, a vulnerability in Pixel 6 is why Google is preventing Pixel 6 users to download older Android 12 builds. If you are using any of the smartphones in Pixel 6 series and you have installed Android 13 on your device, there is no way for you to change your mind and go back to an older Android version.