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A/B partitioning was introduced by Google in Android O. It allows the inactive set of partitions to be patched in a running system on the active set of partitions.

A/B partitioning was introduced by Google along with Android Oreo 8.0. By employing twobsets of system partitions, it allows the inactive set of partitions to be patched in a running system on the active set of partitions, without interrupting the user for a reboot into the recovery.

A/B partitioning also removes the need for separate /recovery and /cache partitions, since OTAs can be applied in the running system, which was previously done by temporarily rebooting into recovery.

AOSP documentation on A/B partitions

Further reading on XDA Developers:

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