It’s no secret that Google’s partners have almost always been terrible at updating their devices to the newest versions of Android. They either take forever to do so, are constantly versions behind, or give-up on updates altogether as devices age and they struggle to justify the cost and time involved in getting them ready. Google thinks it finally has the solution for updates with something called Project Treble that will arrive first in Android O.
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.” How are they going to do that? By specifically separating out the “vendor implementation” portion of Android, which is the lower-level software that is controlled by silicon makers, the guys who make the processors and chipsets for devices.
So with Project Treble, the Android setup will look like this:
The VTS (vendor test suite used to validate this new vendor interface) and vendor implementation here is the new, separated portion that Google thinks will help with updates. Think about how Google now allows developers to create a single app that works across numerous versions of Android and countless devices. That’s what they are trying to do here with this separated vendor implementation, so companies like Qualcomm or Sony can keep their stuff up to date and Google can “ensure forward compatibility of the vendor implementation” as new versions of Android are ready.
These images show you the old Android process vs. the new one starting with Android O:
As you can see there, Android updates will essentially skip a major step that required work from the silicon folks, Google, and likely carriers and device makers. Now, with Treble, it’s one less step to getting out updates.
Google says that Project Treble will arrive with devices running Android O and that the architecture is already running on Pixel phones in the Android O developer preview.
More to come!