Google's "Project Treble" solves one of Android's many update roadblocks


Google's "Project Treble" solves one of Android's many update roadblocks

Google has unveiled a new system that aims to streamline vendor Android updates. Android 7.1 (which came out last year) now sits at 0.5% marketshare, and brand new phones are still being released with 6.0 Marshmallow. Android's underlying architecture requires updated drivers for device components as new versions of the operating system are released, and some vendors don't like to update drivers for old components, and not necessarily in a timely fashion. The diagram above explains things at their most basic, with Google first pushing the software release out to the world, and from there it moves to the silicon manufacturer to modify it for their hardware, who then passes it off to the device manufacturer to customize with carrier requirements.

While the fragmentation situation has gotten better over time, it certainly hasn't gone away: the latest version of Android, Nougat, has been out for more than eight months and is still on only 7 percent of Android phones. Rather, it will be "coming to all new devices launched with Android O and beyond". But Google thinks that it can help, at least somewhat, by incorporating a modular base into its OS, starting with the Android O release later this year. Device makers modify the new release again as needed for their devices.

Google says Project Treble will make the Android framework more like the apps landscape, where a developer can write a single app that can run on millions of different pieces of hardware.

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Device makers work with carriers to test and certify the new release. Google will work with chipset manufacturers to make sure the Vendor interface is forwards-compatible, and the interface will be validated by a Vendor Test Suite (VTS). However, the Project Treble architecture is now running on Pixel phones using the O Developer Preview.

According to the post, it's the interface that gives developers access to "hardware-specific features of Android".

Google will publish full Project Treble documentation with the launch of O later this summer.

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