Explained: How Google’s Project Treble promises to speed up Android updates

2 min read

Normally, we expect Google to drop its biggest announcements of the year at its annual I/O conference (which, I might remind you, is coming next week), but this year might be an exception. Google announced Project Treble on Friday, claiming to remove one of the biggest speed bumps to manufacturers releasing Android updates to their devices.

As it is now, Android integrates code specific to processors and other components on your device’s circuit board with the code that is specific to the operating system. Due to this, every time an update to the operating system is pushed, manufacturers have to update the entire codebase, both OS code and hardware-specific code (commonly called “vendor” code) together. Obviously, doing that slows things down, as it requires manufacturers to do a lot of extra work to get an update working on their devices.

With Project Treble, Google intends to separate the OS code from the vendor code and create an interface between the two codebases. That way all manufacturers have to do when Google pushes a new Android version is update the OS code and the new vendor-OS interface Google is developing. Google “validates” its new interface (making sure the manufacturer’s existing vendor code still works with the new OS code) with what they call the Vendor Test Suite (VTS). This should greatly reduce the amount of code manufacturers have to update and test for compatibility and performance because they just keep their existing hardware-specific vendor code.

Project Treble will make its debut with Android O, so apparently, the transition from Nougat will take the usual amount of time, but waiting for Android P should be significantly shorter. That is unless manufacturers invent some other excuse to justify making you wait while nudging you to just upgrade to their newest flagship instead.¬†After all, when Android “P” is ready for final release, the Galaxy S8/LG G6/OnePlus3T or other devices you have will have the same hardware it did when they ran on Android O, so there might not need to be any changes to your hardware-specific code for that device to support P. Your manufacturer would only need to incorporate their custom UI to the new OS and send it to carriers for network testing where applicable.

Incidentally, Project Treble should (in theory at least) make it easier for custom ROM developers to transition to the next Android version as well. You can read more about Project Treble at the source link below.

Source: Android Developers Blog