The update situation of Android is notoriously bad, with even flagship phones like the Galaxy series take months for the latest feature updates to come out. However, Google has not moved and his hard work with Project Treble is starting to bear fruit.
What is the Treble project?
Until last year, the update of Android required much more effort. Here is what should happen with each update, regardless of size:
- Google builds the new update and adds it to the Open Source Project (AOSP) repository of Android.
- Silicon suppliers such as Qualcomm and MediaTek would add and test code for their processors to support the new version of the software.
- Hardware vendors such as Samsung and LG add and test code to support other phone hardware and their own software features.
Project Treble simplifies a little. From the phones provided with Android 8.0 Oreo, the silicon supplier code can be separated from the hardware vendor code. Instead of Qualcomm, MediaTek and other SOC manufacturers needing to write new drivers for each update, the driver interface can be used on newer versions of Android and still works. Samsung, LG and other device manufacturers do not have to wait for this code to start their work on the update, which means that it is transmitted to consumers much faster.
It was optional that phones updated to Oreo be compatible with Treble, but with Pie disappearing: every phone receiving an update for Android Pie must be compatible with Treble.
It starts to work
After a year of use, Project Treble is already starting to bear fruit: Google expects more devices to be updated to Android 9.0 Pie by the end of this year compared to those of Android 8.0 Oreo by the end of 2017. Summit, Google introduced several phones from different hardware vendors, able to execute exactly the same generic image (GSI) .
The presentation of the GSI on all these phones testifies how Treble works. Application developers can use the GSI to test Android Pie application compatibility on a device that has not been officially updated by its manufacturer.
This is fine if you are an application developer, but if you are the average consumer, it may be difficult to worry about it. Basically, it is likely that your phone will receive a software update faster because some of the work needed to publish it may be ignored. This also makes the update less expensive for the phone manufacturer, which makes it more likely to support older devices.
But it's still not perfect
Although these improvements are excellent, if fast updates are the most important factor for you, there is still a handful of manufacturers to choose from. Pixel phones from Google would be the fastest, but One Android Phones Like Nokia's Line are not far behind. We'll see if improvements to Treble are useful, but Samsung tends to keep software updates until the next Galaxy S phone is released, which means users have to wait for Spring to see updates to the platform.
Even if it is not perfect, Project Treble has already made a significant improvement to the Android ecosystem, which means that your phone will be updated much faster!