It looks like Android 12 could make fonts and emojis updateable without a full system upgrade.
Several code changes that would make this possible were spotted back in November. At the time, the code was still in development. Now, Android Police reports developers merged to the Android Open Source Project (AOSP), which means we could see the change in Android 12.
For some context, Android currently stores fonts and emojis in the ‘system partition,’ which requires root privileges or a system update to change. However, the new code merged into AOSP would remove emojis and fonts from the system partition and move it to the ‘data partition.’
To keep malicious apps from changing things or break fonts on Android phones, the file can only be written to by the ‘system_server.’ However, apps would still have read access, which is all they’d need to display text and render emoji.
Ultimately, the change should mean emojis and fonts get more frequent updates, especially for those using phones from manufacturers who don’t have the best track record with upgrades.
With the changes getting merged into AOSP ahead of the Android 12 beta’s potential arrival, it seems likely the change could be a part of the next major OS upgrade. The Android 11 developer preview debuted in February last year, which means we could be on track for a February launch of the Android 12 preview too.