That’s exactly what occurred to a slew of Pixel users the other day. They had the most recent Android 12 build on their smartphone, and the phone’s automated update mechanism asked them to download a 1.8GB download of roughly the same build. After questions on Reddit popped up, the official Google account responded to users, saying, “We’re sorry for the alert you received. Not to worry, we’ve resolved this issue and you can disregard it.”
We have no way of knowing which versions of the Pixel software were upgraded, but the cases we’ve seen online all involve a Verizon build of the software being sent to non-Verizon consumers. The Verizon version of the November security update was applied to devices running Android 12 with the November security update. As far as we can determine, the changes between the regular build and the Verizon build are roughly what you’d expect: the Verizon version includes extra code that aids the phone’s network compatibility. Many older Pixel smartphones appear to be vulnerable, while the brand-new Pixel 6 appears to be unaffected.
It’s unclear why there was such a large upgrade. In most cases, distributing a tiny bit of Verizon code to customers should result in a minor update. Google has a delta update method, which should only send out updated code, but this appears to be a brand-new operating system. When it comes to Android upgrades, a 1.8GB download is enormous. Something strange happened, and Google isn’t saying anything about it.
Non-Verizon customers that accepted the upgrade and switched to a Verizon build have reported no negative consequences. There haven’t been any complaints of faulty cellphone service, which may have been a problem.
The update has been withdrawn by Google, so if you were receiving the prompt, it should no longer be there.