Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 23rd Feb 2018 01:08 UTC

If I look back through all of the years we have covered Android, it’s hard to argue that the introduction of Google Play Edition phones wasn’t one of the biggest moments. In those early years, the Android skin situation was bad. Those early versions of TouchWiz, MotoBlur, and even HTC Sense, weren’t what many of us wanted, to say the least. We wanted Google’s version of Android, as well as their Nexus update schedules, yet that was tough to get because Google was making average hardware at the time.

While Google Play Edition may have failed as a program, I get the feeling that Android One will now act as a proper replacement to it.

Stop trying to make timely Android updates happen. It's not going to happen.

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Project Treble adds a hardware abstraction layer in the Linux kernel which in my (exxtremely modest) understanding, was sorely missing because in my (exxtremely limited) understanding, it ran against the grain of what Linux devs like.

Linux devs want the source for all the drivers be there in the open, so they can be updated and recompiled as the Linux kernel evolves. Variability in the internal APIs can be skirted by reworks in the drivers, and the APIs can evolve.

But people who write the drivers for cameras, gyros, gp-eses, touchscreens and the myriad peripherals inside the typical cellphone system-on-chip are not interested in that scheme. They want to write as little code as possible and get it over with. Oh, and keeping that code nicely locked in a fiercely defended Git or Perforce server. GPL what?

Project Treble adds a versioned and themed API whereby old binary drivers will be able to link with new kernels, as long as the API level for that type of peripheral is still supported. So what we need now is Treble-compatible kernels and drivers, which are not thick on the ground.

And here is what (I think) is Qualcomm's roadblock. They do not seem to be releasing Treble-compatible kernels for their existing chips, so anything running, say, a Snapdragon 835 or earlier, will never ever get Treble support. But any newer QC chip, 4xx, 6xx or 8xx will come with a Treble-enabled Linux kernel from Qualcomm, so cellphones will eventually be compatible out of the box.

Samsung uses QC SOCs, so no Treble yet either -- though I'm sure the GS9 will have it. But Huawei has updated the kernels for its own more modern Kirin SOCs, so quite a few Honor and Huawei cellphones from the last couple of years are getting Treble in their system updates.

With Treble in the kernel, newer kernels can be built reusing the old device drivers, which makes support of old phones vastly easier for the manufacturer and for open-kernel projects like Lineage.

And let's not forget that Oreo also lets manufacturers more easily uglify the Android interface, letting them do uglier things with less work and easier maintenance.

So if manufacturers will now not be _forced_ to update their system software more frequently, they will certainly be _compelled_ to do so. Some won't, but some will, cash in on the good press, and watch how the finger of ignominy points at the laggards.

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