Google on Tuesday released the first stable builds of Android 10 for all its Pixel smartphones, but alongside all that, the company also released the Generic System Images (GSIs) of the software for ARM64 and x86 platforms. Support for GSI was first added on Pixel Phones with Android Q Beta 4, and it’s heartening to see that it’s available with the stable version right from Day-1.
In case you didn’t know it already, GSIs are meant to help app developers perform application validation without having to install every single experimental version of Android on their devices permanently. Described by Google as ‘Dynamic System Updates’, or DSU, it effectively lets users boot into other Android images by creating temporary system partitions using ADB on devices with Treble support.
One of the coolest features DSUs brings is the ability to make Android system images work like a live bootable Linux Distro, which could someday allow users to install custom ROMs without unlocking the bootloader. The feature is still largely in the experimental stage, but was shown to be working on the Pixel 3 XL at Google I/O 2019.
The feature is expected to make things a whole lot easier for developers, as it will enable them to try out different experimental Android versions without having to go through the process of installing and uninstalling new system images on their phones. While the Android Studio Emulator does help, its inherent limitations mean that developers would still benefit greatly from the ability to temporarily boot into different system images without affecting the installed operating system and without having to wipe system data every time.