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

Brian Inglis Brian.Inglis at SystematicSw.ab.ca
Mon May 25 13:14:26 UTC 2020

On 2020-05-24 12:45, Paul Eggert wrote:
> 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 APEX and APX with an out-of-date APX).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.

In many cases, it is up to the phone hardware vendor e.g. Samsung or network
vendor e.g. telco, who customize Android for their hardware platform or their
network infrastructure, to customize and forward security and system updates.
Apple is good about this for iOS and many old phones still get updates, until
they are so old that certain updates may not be applied to them.
Google is trying to promote and bypass vendors for security and system updates,
as Android systems have a poor rep for security and updates: maybe 1.5-3 years
support from release of a model from a vendor, and limited support from telcos,
concentrating on recently sold sets.

Take care. Thanks, Brian Inglis, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

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