Linked by Thom Holwerda on Sat 13th May 2017 15:36 UTC

It's that time of the year again: Google unveiling some initiative or whatever with the aim of improving the horrible Android update mess. None of them really panned out, but I begrudgingly have to admit that the project they just unveiled - Project Treble - has some more meat to it than the vague promises and alliances they usually peddle.

The basic gist here is that Google is splitting Android in twain, so they end up with the Android OS Framework and the vendor implementation. The latter - the part that's the reason why so many Android phones don't get updated - can remain the same across operating system updates.

Today, with no formal vendor interface, a lot of code across Android needs to be updated when a device moves to a newer version of Android.

With a stable vendor interface providing access to the hardware-specific parts of Android, device makers can choose to deliver a new Android release to consumers by just updating the Android OS framework without any additional work required from the silicon manufacturers.

This seems like a good idea, but sadly, it won't be backported to older Android versions. Treble will be part of Android O later this year (it's already available in Pixel developer previews), but existing phones won't benefit from it at all. In other words, it'll be a few years before the full effect of this project can be measured.

As a sidenote - and you guys will have to help me out on this one, since I'm not knowledgeable enough to determine this - could this mean it'll be easier to replace the Linux-based vendor implementation with something else in the future? If so, that might be something Google is potentially perhaps maybe possibly interested in.

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Good news all around.
by przemo_li on Sat 13th May 2017 16:01 UTC
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First, I agree that Tremble only starts with Android O, and for effect we will have to wait for Android O+1 ;)

However it's still good news. Device oems do not need to wait for drivers vendors to finish their new drivers, to release their new versions of Android.

Custom ROMs scene will not have to wait for never-to-happen release of some binary-blob-only drivers for new Android, before they can claim stable release of new version of ROM.

Smaller OEMs may decide that cost of update is finally acceptable for them.

Google can use VTS as a stick to force higher quality of drivers (or else no VTS certification, and hopefully bad PR in industry press).
Quality of drivers is I think biggest news here. Fragmentation may or may not decrease. But quality of drivers will go up.

PS Fun fact, in order to enforce workable OpenGL ES 3 drivers Google engineers had to revert to using as much of that API as possible in Android itself. Otherwise handsets would ship with "claims of support" but with totally unworkable implementations. Situation is that f***** ** ;)

Edited 2017-05-13 16:02 UTC

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