[tz] Morocco time change not working on many Android phones

Paul Eggert eggert at cs.ucla.edu
Sun May 24 18:45:19 UTC 2020

On 5/24/20 12:51 AM, Semlali Naoufal wrote:
> I would like to inform you that the time has been advanced by one hour today on Android Smartphones while the time change should not be made until 31.05.2020 as already reported.
> Has the patch below been deployed correctly?

Yes and no. It depends on your Android phone's support and whether you've
updated its software recently and rebooted.

Android has a complex relationship with tzdata. According to
<https://source.android.com/devices/tech/config/timezone-rules>, time zone data
is distributed in Android 10 via an Android Pony Express (APEX) container and in
Android 8.1 and 9 via an Android Package (APK), and updates take effect after
you reboot your phone. I guess in earlier releases tzdata was just part of the
operating system. (If Android is like GNU/Linux it has two copies of tzdata, one
for Java and the other for native apps; if so, I suppose it's possible for the
two copies to disagree.)

So, whether your Android phone works in Morocco right now depends on how well
your phone's supplier updated its APEX or APX or OS (depending on how old the
phone is) and whether you've rebooted. I just now checked the Android clock
application in two recently-rebooted Android phones in my household, and one (a
Nokia 6.1 running Android 10 - April security patch) had the wrong time for
Morocco, whereas the other (an Essential PH-1 running Android 10 - February
security patch) had the correct time.

Nokia is pretty good about keeping the Nokia 6.1 up to date, but apparently has
not issued an APEX container for tzdb 2020a (or maybe has mistakenly issued both
APEX and APX with an out-of-date APX). Essential went out of business in
February so it surprised me that its phone's tzdata is up to date; perhaps the
APEX updating mechanism is not vendor-specific?

I searched online for how this APEX stuff really works and came up empty. I
don't know how Google broadcasts the latest APEX version for tzdata, or why the
Essential PH-1's tzdata is up-to-date despite not having OS updates since
February. Perhaps someone with some Android expertise could chime in.

There are two bottom lines here.

1. Your experience will vary depending on who is maintaining your Android phone.

2. The Moroccan government should announce its time zone rules much earlier if
it wants more of its people's phones to work correctly.

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