Android is the most widely used smartphone operating system in the world with about 85% market share. But it is the fragmentation of devices which makes it quite difficult for Google to make sure that all eligible devices receive major Android in a timely manner. This is the reason most of the Android users have to wait for months to receive a software update and by the time it happens, there is usually the next version under testing. Now with a goal of countering this issue, Google has announced the all-new Project Treble.
With Project Treble, Google has made changes to the low-level system of Android architecture which it is touting as the biggest change to this level of Android yet. But before we talk about the project, we would like to talk about how the Android update process usually works on devices.
It basically comprises of five steps where the first step is the release of the latest Android version source code by Google’s team. This code is then sent to chipset makers like Qualcomm and MediaTek so that they can make changes to it as per their hardware demands. The next step is to make the code available to OEMs which further tweak it to make it compatible with their different devices. In some regions like the US and UK, OEMs work in partnership with carriers for releasing their devices. In such cases, the code then goes to these carriers for further tweaking as per their needs. And finally, the Android update is made available to end-users.
But with Project Treble, Google plans to reduce these steps and eventually make delivery of Android updates not only faster but also cost-effective. With this project, it is basically working on improving the second step where chipset makers have to tweak the code for making it compatible with their hardware.
To make this possible, Google has added a “vendor interface” layer between the Android OS framework and the original vendor implementation. This will allow OEMs to push Android updates directly without relying on chipset makers to make changes to the code for the compatibility.
Here’s the whole process as explained by Google in the announcement:
“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.”
This newly announced change and architecture will become available with Android O. It means even though Google has good intentions of making Android updates faster, there is still a long way to go before we see any significant change in the way updates are pushed.