Android has had a problem with updates since forever and that has resulted in a lot of fragmentation. Take this for example, while Android O is just around the corner, Android Nougat powers only around 7% of all Android devices out there. That’s just an embarrassing number, considering it’s has been more than 8 months since its first stable release. So, why are Android updates a problem? Well, as Google puts it, “we’ve consistently heard from our device-maker partners that updating existing devices to a new version of Android is incredibly time consuming and costly“. Well, Google has always come up with new plans to improve the Android updates situation but this time they apparently have a more concrete plan. The company has just announced Project Treble, which is aimed at simplifying Android updates. So, if you are wondering what exactly is Project Treble is, we have all the answers for you.
What is Project Treble?
Project Treble brings a modular base to Android, which will separate the “vendor specific” hardware code from the Android framework code. The project, part of the Android O release, brings the biggest change to the low level architecture of Android, that should make it easier for manufacturers to update their devices to the latest Android version.
There’s a lot of technical jargon here but the bottom line is Project Treble will make sure that the updates don’t require as much time and energy from OEMs as previous Android updates did.
How Does Project Treble Work?
To understand Project Treble, you need to understand how Android updates work. When a new Android version’s source code is released by Google, it goes first to silicon manufacturers like Qualcomm, MediaTek etc., who then add code to make sure the new Android version runs well on their chipsets. Then, chipset makers pass on the Android update to OEMs, the companies that make Android devices like Samsung, LG, Huawei, Lenovo etc., who then modify the release with their apps, while also adding their own custom skins and other features. Then, the device makers work with carriers to test the new Android version and then release it. So yes, it’s quite a lengthy process. Well, this is what Project Treble aims to fix.
With Project Treble, Google is introducing a “vendor interface“, which will work similarly to the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS). The CTS makes sure the app developers don’t have to custom design their apps for different manufacturers and different hardware. In the case of Android updates, Vendor Test Suite (VTS) will cut off the work required by the silicon manufacturers, thus speeding up the update process. So, Android device makers will be able to just update the Android framework and release it for their devices.
Will It Really Make Android Updates Faster?
As we mentioned above, as of now, the Android update release features three steps and Project Treble only reduces one of those steps. As Google puts it, “no additional work from the silicon vendors” but will that really improve the Android updates situation? Well, things are a bit doubtful, as of now. While manufacturers like Lenovo-owned Motorola should be able to push updates faster, since they mostly have a stock Android build, manufacturers like Samsung will still take their time, considering they have to skin the UI and add their own features.
So, the bottom line is, if you don’t receive Android updates after Project Treble, you only have your device manufacturer to blame. Google has certainly done its job.
When Will Devices Get Project Treble?
The Project Treble architecture is already part of the Android O Developer Preview that was recently released for the Pixel and Nexus devices. When it comes to other devices, any device that is launched with Android O or updated to Android O will be a Project Treble compatible device.
Project Treble: Faster Android Updates
We have to wait and see if Project Treble indeed fulfills on the promise of faster Android updates. However, we should get a clearer idea when the Android O is released to everyone, as Google will also be publishing a full documentation of Project Treble once Android O is released.
Well, here’s hoping Project Treble indeed fixes things on the Android update front. Well, what are your thoughts on Project Treble? Let us know in the comments section below.