Google has just unveiled one of the most important features to come in Android O, the next version of Android O: Project Treble. With this project, Google intends to considerably speed up Android updates by making them “simpler, faster and less expensive to deploy for manufacturers.” Explanations.
If you have an Android smartphone, you know how slow the deployment of Android updates can be slow. When they are actually deployed. Android 7.0 Nougat was launched about 10 months ago and is now installed on only 7.1% of Android smartphones in the world.
A binding update process for builders
If smartphones take so long to be updated, this is due to several factors. As Google explains on his article of presentation of Project Treble, currently, the update of an Android smartphone requires many steps. First Google has to create a new version of Android. This is the open-source version of its OS which includes the new lines of code. This version is then sent directly to the chip and component manufacturers (SoC, screen, RAM, Wifi chips and NFC, etc.) of smartphone. The latter will then adapt the code in order to include their drivers so that their components work with this new version of Android.
Once the chip makers have done their optimization, they send the modified code to the builders who re-engineer it to introduce their own novelties, adapt their interfaces or overlay them. Once they have done this, they must beta-test their version and possibly submit it to the mobile operators who will distribute it in the case of smartphones purchased in their shops. A very long process. If we take the case of Galaxy S7, Samsung’s high-end smartphone had to wait for the month January 2017 to switch from Android 6.0.1 Marhsmallow to Android 7.0 Nougat, nearly 7 months after the release of the Samsung Galaxy S7, Android N.
Treble will allow manufacturers to no longer have to wait for component manufacturers
The Treble project aims to completely review the way in which updates will be made. The idea is to allow smartphone manufacturers to make updates to Android without having to worry about hardware constraints and wait until the component manufacturers have developed their drivers. To do this, Google has separated the framework of Android from the code necessary to the purely hardware operation of the phone (the “vendor implementation”).
Google does not say exactly how (and we imagine it is an important technical site), but the concrete result should be updates that will arrive much faster. Google will offer updates to its mobile OS and will send them directly to smartphone manufacturers who will be able to integrate them into their phones and adapt their overlays without having to wait for component manufacturers.
An interesting concept, but will the smartphone builders play the game?
On paper, this should speed up Android updates. But will Android smartphone manufacturers play the game by deploying updates on their phones more quickly? Currently, only mid-range and high-end Android smartphones usually have the right to upgrades. Perhaps this Project Treble will encourage Samsung, LG and other Chinese manufacturers to deploy them on inexpensive devices.
The Treble Project will be directly integrated with the next version of Android, Android O. This new version is currently in the Developer Preview phase (and already benefits from this functionality). We should know a little more this week, since Google will hold Wednesday its Google I / O, its traditional annual conference on Android.