Android O is supposed to make Android updates arrive faster

Camille Francis
May 13, 2017

Before Treble, every new Android update would require a rework of the silicon vendor's low-level software. 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.

Called Treble, the project involves making it easier for Android manufacturers and carriers to roll out updates to their devices by creating a set of tests aimed at the vendors that create the components inside phones, tablets and anything else running Android.

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. Google says that it would be active for the "devices launched with Android O and beyond". They either take forever to do so, are constantly versions behind, or give-up on updates altogether as devices age and they struggle to justify the cost and time involved in getting them ready. Device makers modify the new release again as needed for their devices.

The new VI will sit in between the Android OS framework and the aforementioned Vendor Implementation. It's only that, with Project Treble, no additional work will be required from silicon manufacturers before a device maker can get into that process.

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It's powered by the new Vendor Test Suite (VTS) and is conceptually similar to the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), which lets developers write apps that work across devices running on different hardware from different manufacturers.

In addition to the architectural changes, Google is working with its partners to move their code changes into the common Android Open Source Project codebase.

According to the post, it's the interface that gives developers access to "hardware-specific features of Android". Google has announced this week that they're initiating a so-called "Project Treble" to make that a reality.

It's likely we'll hear more about this at Google I/O next week.

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