Google's Project Treble aims to make slow Android updates a thing of the past

Google's Project Treble aims to make slow Android updates a thing of the past
Slow manufacturer updates are a huge problem for Android that doesn't really need an introduction at this point because everyone knows the drill. Google releases new Android Dessert. Anywhere between 3 months to a year later, the update has reached your phone, assuming it isn't older than, say, 18 months. It's not only manufacturers at fault, though. The multi-tiered Android update process is rather convoluted.

Now, Google is taking tangible steps to reduce the overhead and quicken up those updates a bit. Ahead of I/O 2017, the Android household announced Project Treble. Touting it as the biggest change to Android's system architecture ever, PT separates the low-level code written by SoC manufacturers like Samsung and Qualcomm from the Android OS codebase. This is the very basic gist of it, and the result is that device makers can now deliver updates by updating only code relevant to the OS without further work needed from the silicon slingers.

Thus, a significant bottleneck in the update process is bypassed and new Android updates ought to be reaching devices sooner. Additionally, Google is trying to get its processor and device-making partners to bring their code changes, such as new features and bugfixes, to the common Android Open Source Project codebase.

Project Treble is part of the upcoming Android O and is already running on the Developer Preview version for Pixel phones. All devices that launch on O or get updates to it will support the program. The next Android version is coming later this year.

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source: Android Developers blog

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23 Comments

1. aegislash

Posts: 1475; Member since: Jan 27, 2015

Yeah, okay...as an Android user since the beginning, I'll believe this when I see it in action. Until then, faster updates for non-Nexus/Pixel devices are merely a myth.

17. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

I don't think this will happen, why? because manufacturers want us to buy new hardware. But the good side is if Google manages to do this, it will force Samsung and else to stop rehashing the same old hardware and give us new decent hardware every year.

23. gotoAndDie

Posts: 82; Member since: Jun 13, 2015

It would make updates come sooner, but the 18 month time limit would remain. That's planned obsolescence for you. Example: The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 can run almost all system software from Note 4, Note 5, Note 7, or other newer Samsung devices. I'm running C9 and Note 7 software on my Note 3 myself, and it runs very smoothly. Samsung is the only barrier between the Note 3 and its deserved updates.

18. juandante

Posts: 679; Member since: Apr 23, 2013

I don't think this will happen, why? because manufacturers want us to buy new hardware. But the good side is if Google manages to do this, it will force Samsung and else to stop rehashing the same old hardware and give us new decent hardware every year.

2. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1033; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

So they plan to separate TouchWiz(or whatever it's called now) and other Manufacturer coding from the base Android code? Thus allowing them to release the updated code and features on Android to devices without the wait for Manufacturers and Carriers to tinker with it. This sounds great and all, but what about physical aspects of the device that may not work once Google pushes the Android update through. Like the coding for additional hardware like FPS, Health Sensors, etc. Since they would be linked to the device through the manufacturers code, couldn't changing the base Android code temporarily render some features useless? I may be wrong on what I'm saying but it's just a thought

6. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

No the code for the hardware. Google can't do s**t about ui skins.

8. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1033; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

So there's no way the Updates being applied specifically too Androids code without being touched by the manufacturer would hinder some aspects of a device? Because I would think there would be something somewhere in the code to allow the hardware to function with the device since they wouldn't use Plug and Play technology for it

3. NexusX

Posts: 613; Member since: May 16, 2013

"Touting it as the biggest change to Android's system architecture ever, PT separates the low-level code written by SoC manufacturers like Samsung and Qualcomm from the Android OS codebase" I guess that means updates, albeit more timely, will not be optimized for older hardware.

4. Plasticsh1t

Posts: 3097; Member since: Sep 01, 2014

American carriers are a prime example of hindering Android updates and enslaving their customers. Thank God I don't have to deal with such carriers. Google please help good American citizens.

5. Stappy3

Posts: 108; Member since: Dec 09, 2015

I'll see it when I believe it

7. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Nice but vein attempt to speed up android roll out process. Won't have any effect on carriers who'll keep users waiting as they pack it with their bloatware. If you care about fast updates, simply get an unlocked device, and in the case of Samsung, an unlocked device outside of the US.

9. Guaire

Posts: 876; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

Slow updates is the least important issue with Android updates IMO. Vast majority of Android phones never gets any firmware updates. Some of the manufacturers even doesn't fix their buggy firmware.

10. nebula

Posts: 1009; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

So is it like having fast update with OEM layering it's launcher on top?

11. darkkjedii

Posts: 30953; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

Slow updates are the worst thing about carrier branded android devices, outside of carrier bloat. I hope this comes to fruition, as android would be a dream, witth fast stable updates.

16. joey_sfb

Posts: 6794; Member since: Mar 29, 2012

Google just provide the framework but it's up to the OEM to follow and not make changes on their own. Till better than not having it. It will be easier for company like Nokia that want stock firmware to support their old and new devices. Samsung not so much they wanted to distance themselves from Google to create their own branding., So I expect them to take steps in the other direction.

12. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Certainly would be nice.

13. jove39

Posts: 2145; Member since: Oct 18, 2011

Hope updates come sooner in future.

15. Courage

Posts: 17; Member since: Mar 13, 2017

Sooner and for longer.

19. omnitech

Posts: 1131; Member since: Sep 28, 2016

Meh, I never had an issue with the volume of updates on Android phones. Just because it doesn't say nougat 7.1 or something doesn't mean it already hasn't been updated once or twice. Manufacturers do their own updates. Best way to fix this perceived problem is, this would never fly but it would work, is simply not call anything that is skinned Android anything. Put code into the base Android OS that automatically removes the dessert name once it is skinned. Pixel phones can have Android updates up the wazoo. Android 8.0 or whatever. Touchwiz can have touchwiz updates and it wouldn't matter what Android OS it's based on because we wouldn't know. Touchwiz 8.0 is all we can see. Sense can have their own updates Sense 8.0. Samething here we don't know if its still 7.1 or whatever nor does it matter. Lg can have their own updates. Problem solved. Feature wise you can decide which features you want without a naming scheme putting your panties in a bunch. No more ammo from idiotic isheep because all devices on paper have just as much updates as Apple. And Android manufacturers are not forced to update twice as much as Apple does. Currently they have to update the OS and the Skin.Just let them update the skin without the negative connotations associated with basing their skin on an older version of Android. Because frankly, some of these skins are ahead of Android in features. Stuff like double tap to wake was on LG devices long before they were core Android gestures. Eliminate the number and the OS number simply doesn't matter. Then they can just pretend like Apple that they are keeping everything updated.

20. RoboticEngi

Posts: 1251; Member since: Dec 03, 2014

That would actually be an awesome solution.

21. Podrick

Posts: 1284; Member since: Aug 19, 2015

Can only hope this happens.

22. Cat97

Posts: 1850; Member since: Mar 02, 2017

So they will finally have a hardware abstraction layer (HAL), something that Windows had since...forever (read: 25 years ago).

24. cmdacos

Posts: 4070; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

What does this have to do with PCs?

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