Google Project Treble to Bring Faster Android Updates From Manufacturers

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Project Treble will introduce a new vendor interface
  • OEMs will no longer need to wait for chipmakers to send modified software
  • They can just make tweaks to Android OS software and push the update

The one big issue with the Android version adoption is the slow rollout of customised versions from OEMs to their smartphones. Google is trying to fix this problem, and has launched ‘Project Treble’ that aims to make Android updates ‘easier, faster, and less costly for manufacturers.’

Project Treble essentially allows OEMs to update to the latest Android software, without making a ton of changes. Previously, manufacturers had to wait for chipmakers to modify the new release to their specific hardware. After receiving the modified software from chipmakers, OEMs then made their own tweaks, test it out with carriers, and then release it to compatible smartphones. Now, with Project Treble, a separate vendor interface is created between the Android OS framework and the vendor implementation. Google claims that it will work with chip makers to ensure the vendor interface is compatible beforehand, and the validation of that will be done by a Vendor Test Suite (VTS).

“Project Treble aims to do what 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. The new vendor interface is validated by a Vendor Test Suite (VTS), analogous to the CTS, to ensure forward compatibility of the vendor implementation,” Google explains on its developer blog.

With a stable vendor interface, 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, saving up a lot of time. This architectural change to Android will be coming with Android O, and the first developer preview already seems to have it. We’ll hopefully hear more about vendor interface at Google I/O this week – it kicks off on Wednesday.

To recap, Android Nougat has been out for more than eight months now, but it has still managed to creep onto only 7.1 percent of Android devices. The company’s age-old Android KitKat still exists on 18.8 percent of Android devices, while the biggest share is Android Lollipop, at 32 percent.

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