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

enh enh at google.com
Tue May 26 15:37:09 UTC 2020

On Sun, May 24, 2020 at 11:45 AM Paul Eggert <eggert at cs.ucla.edu> 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.)

like Linux, no: ART doesn't have its own copy of tzdata.

are there two copies? yes: icu has its own slightly different database
built from tzdata, in addition the "normal" (it's just all the tzdata
files concatenated with a small header) tzdata. but they're both in
the apk or apex.

> 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 APEX and APX with an out-of-date APX).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.

apexes, like apks, are updated via the Play Store.

> 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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