With so many Android device makers in the markets, Google always faced the problem of fragmentation – no latest updates from the manufacturers. Only the Nexus and Pixel series received the fresh Android skins, while others waited for up to one year to taste the latest Android version.
While Android has taken steps and cracked a whip at manufacturers for not improving the situation, it has decided to take the matter into its own hands. The company has launched Project Treble to change to the low-level system architecture of Android.
The Android O will be having this Project Treble functionality built-in so that Android smartphones can receive the latest updates on time. In all the steps involved, the Android update has to go through a lot of cycles before coming through to a phone.
The blog post says “With Project Treble, we’re re-architecting Android to make it easier, faster and less costly for manufacturers to update devices to a new version of Android.”
How does Google plan to do this?
App developers today can write a single app that works across over a billion devices running on different hardware from different manufacturers. Project Treble aims to do what Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) did for apps, for the Android OS framework. The core concept is to separate the vendor implementation – the device-specific, lower-level software written in large part by the silicon manufacturers – from the Android OS Framework.
This is achieved by the introduction of a new vendor interface between the Android OS framework and the vendor implementation. So now the smartphone manufacturers only have to make some changes on their end instead of the chip-makers.
With a stable vendor interface providing access to the hardware-specific parts of Android, device makers can choose to deliver a new Android release to consumers by just updating the Android OS framework without any additional work required from the silicon manufacturers.
The developer’s preview of Android O is already hosting Project Treble, and all devices having Android O and above going forward will be able to take advantage of this. This would mean a higher conversion of smartphones from previous Android versions to the latest version.
Will it be able to take on Apple’s instant updates?
Apple’s success story has been mostly due to the instant and regular updates across its devices. All iPhones, iPads and iPod Touch devices would get the latest version of iOS within a week of launch.
Android has not been able to play along very well, and as a result, has struggled to get Android Nougat on all devices. In fact, because of system requirements and the vastness of the OS, a lot of manufacturers launch phones that are not able to comply with the basic requirements.
However, now Android O will be able to make it easier for device makers to get the latest Android versions and push them to the customers with ease. Even then, it would not be able to standardize across all manufacturers, but it will accelerate the adoption of latest updates quickly.