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Google promises faster Android updates with ‘Project Treble’

One thing we constantly criticize about the Android world is the slow/lack of OS updates. As Google describes it, the newer Android version has to pass through three requirement stages.

First, the Silicon manufacturers like Qualcomm does the testing and make sure that the sweet Android works with same efficiency, power management and plays nice with the existing device. Then the OEMs step in to create their version of Android and add little touches here and there. And finally carriers do their own verification and then the update reaches the end consumer.

And by the time Android arrives on our two-year-old¬†smartphone, Google is already working or in final stages with next Android. And this is where ‘Project Treble’ comes into play. Google has finally created a stable ‘Vender Interface’. Silicon vendors will now have a “Vendor Test Suite” (VTS) that ensures “forward compatibility of the vendor implementation.”

With a stable vendor interface providing access to the hardware-specific parts of Android, 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, Google describes.

‘Project Treble’ takes care of part one. Silicon manufacturers just need to pass VTS and all the heavy lifting is already done in core OS. That still leaves us with OEMs and carriers. Companies like Xiaomi or Huawei, who tweak every possible part of OS, will continue to take the same amount of time as before.

This is actually great for Google’s Pixel phones. Google no longer need Silicon manufacture’s certificate to update their own device. Remember Nexus 6? The search giant was helpless as Qualcomm refused to work on latest Android with existing chipset. The company can finally avoid such situations. And we might see more than two-year software support on Pixel phones, something that’s never done before in the Android world.

In addition to the architectural changes, Google is working with silicon and device partners to take their code changes, such as features for a carrier network in a specific country, and move them into the common Android Open Source Project (AOSP) codebase.

Google will talk about these in details next week at I/O 2017. Stay tuned for more.


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