Google streamlines vendor Android updates with Project Treble

Google streamlines vendor Android updates with Project Treble

This changes that, or so Google says, with Treble being its "biggest change yet to low-level system architecture".

Let's be honest; the excitement surrounding new versions of Google's Android operating system is always tempered by the realisation all of those features are probably 12 months away from arriving on most phones.

The catch is that Project Treble's updates will not apply to older devices, only new devices released with Android O and beyond.

The basic idea behind Project Treble is that Google is "re-architecting Android to make it easier, faster and less costly for manufacturers to update devices to a new version of Android". The diagram above explains things at their most basic, with Google first pushing the software release out to the world, and from there it moves to the silicon manufacturer to modify it for their hardware, who then passes it off to the device manufacturer to customize with carrier requirements. And if you don't have a flagship phone, you're lucky to get an update at all. It eliminates one step from the drill that would help the OEMs to deliver timely updates. The core concept involves separating the vendor implementation, which is the device-specific software written in large part by the silicon manufacturers, from the Android OS Framework.

Carriers add more apps, more branding, and "test and certify the new release".

Like the CTS, or Compatibility Test Suite, the VTS will ensure that all the chips inside the phone, from the SoC to the baseband to the tiny little sensors that let our phones do fantastic things, work properly when Google releases a new version of Android. That means device makers will be able to push out new Android releases "without any additional work required from the silicon manufacturers".

The best news is that this isn't a theoretical change or a proposal - it's up and running already in the bleeding-edge Android O preview that's running on a number of Pixel phones, and it'll be there in all O-powered devices. As Google describes, "Project Treble aims to do what CTS did for apps, for the Android OS framework". Google would publish the full documentation for Project Treble with the launch of Android O.

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