Not a lot of Android smartphone users get software updates for their phones. This is because the update process is tedious for manufacturers, and so not a lot of them put in the effort. Google has introduced Project Treble, which they hope will result in faster Android updates for manufacturers and make updates available for more Android devices.
How Android Updates Have Worked
To understand the difference that Project Treble makes, we need to understand how Android updates have worked till now. These are the steps required for an update to get to your smartphone:
- Google releases a new version of Android OS
- Google sends the source code to chip makers like Qualcomm, MediaTek, Spreadtrum, Samsung, HiSilicon, etc., who have to modify it to make sure the new Android version runs well on their chipsets
- The chip makers then push the modified code to manufacturers, who then further modify it to make sure it runs well on their devices, as well as to add any custom skins, apps and features; the more devices a manufacturer wishes to apply the update to, the more tests and modifications they have to make; manufacturers with custom skins have even more work to do
- Manufacturers also conduct tests with mobile networks to make sure everything works well; this is where any modifications required by mobile operators also get done
- Finally, the software update is pushed out to specific devices over-the-air (OTA)
As you can see, that is a long, tedious process to get a software update from Google to your smartphone (if it is one of those your manufacturer chooses to update).
Most Android smartphones never get a major software update in their entire lifetime. For example, months after the release of Android Nougat, only 0.3% of Android smartphones were running Nougat.
How Does Project Treble Make Faster Android Updates Possible?
With Project Treble, Google is eliminating Stage 2 – the part where chip manufacturers have to modify and test the code. This means that the source code will go directly from Google to Android device manufacturers, who will then modify and test it before passing it on to the networks.
In summary, Project Treble eliminates only one step from the entire update process. It doesn’t sound like much – and it probably isn’t. Still, it is one step towards faster Android updates. It remains to be seen how much faster this will make the update process in real-time.
Project Treble will be present on all new devices launched with Android 8 Oreo pre-installed. So, you can expect to see any improvements from the next major software update coming after Oreo.