Every year Google releases an update to ultra-popular Android OS. The new update comes with new features some of which improve the overall look and feel of the device and some of which are aimed at improving the performance of the device. But the question is out of more than 2 billion devices that are running on Android OS, how many devices are able to get the taste of these new features. If we look at the statistics, then only a handful of devices are running on Google’s latest Android O, and another update in the form of Android P is on its way.
Out of that two billion Android devices, around 360 million smartphones are still running on Android KitKat which is way too old if we give it a thought. Smartphone manufacturers also play a very important role in this clogging saga of Android updates.
According to Google, device makers have to undergo the heavy-duty task of retooling the whole code in case of previous updates, and that is the reason some device makers don’t even think about pushing new Android updates to their devices. They spend that time and resources in manufacturing newer smartphones.
Enter Project Treble, which Google introduced with Android Oreo aiming to solve third-party manufacturers software update woes. With Project Treble, Google is looking forward to pushing the Android updates to devices more smoothly by making vendor implementation futureproof from point of manufacturing.
So what is Project Treble In Reality? And, how it is going to benefit the base Android users?
Android users have been complaining about the extremely slow speed at which they receive the Android system updates. For some, it takes more than a year, which is kind of very frustrating. Just assume the situation where a user spends a whole lot of money to buy his favourite smartphone and then keeps waiting for the next Android update. Both Google and the device makers are responsible for this situation.
Project Treble is Google’s answer to address this problem. Starting with Android O, Project Treble represents a major re-architecture of Android OS. Project Treble is the biggest improvement to Android O, and it works behind the scene, so, you may not know what is actually happening.
The sole and only aim of Project Treble is to make the release of Android system updates much faster and seamless to the device makers, who in-turn can roll-out the updates to end users at a much faster rate. So it is Google’s answer to that long and frustrating process of pushing Android updates to the user smartphone.
Until now, there’s no vendor partition in the Android interface, which means that manufacturers need to edit a lot of code to update their device to the latest version of Android. But Project Treble introduced a new vendor partition from the core Android OS framework. And the vendor implementation will be different for every smartphone.
The vendor implementation gives access to hardware-specific parts of Android, meaning OEMs which heavily modify the stock Android interface can just update Android OS framework for new Android releases. In short, Project Treble separates Android OS code from a device’s hardware code.
For example, consider Samsung which uses Experience UI on its current generation smartphones, which is a heavily skinned interface built on top of Android. Currently, the main framework of Android is all mixed up with device specific code and core Android code, so it takes a lot of time for Samsung to edit that device-specific code, which in turn leads to delay in software updates. But with Project Treble, the core Android code is separate from the code which Samsung require. This, in turn, makes the job easier for the company to push the latest Android iteration. The same scenario applies to all the Android OEMs such as LG, Xiaomi, Sony, HTC, and so on.
However, this looks good on paper right now. How this Project Treble will be implemented in the real-world, will be a worth watching thing. There are millions of Android users who are stuck on years old Android versions and the only way for them to get a taste of new flavour is to buy a new phone. Which just doesn’t seem right. There is a huge divide between the people who have updated to latest version of Android OS and those who are still using Android KitKat, Lollipop or Marshmallow. This divide is going to stay for a lot more years to come. Google has taken a step forward in removing this fragmentation after years of hues and cries from Android users across the globe.
With Project Treble, Google is aiming at delivering timely Android system updates to billions of users who are using devices from thousands of local and big manufacturers. If Google delivers on its promise, then it will definitely bring a lot of joy to Android community around the world.
Currently, there are a limited number of devices with Project Treble support. The list includes the Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, recently announced Samsung Galaxy S9, S9+, and most of the upcoming devices releasing with Android Oreo out of the box will come with support for Project Treble. Third-party developers are also working hard to bring Project Treble support to popular phones. For example, the Xiaomi Redmi Note 4 recently received Treble support, thanks to a developer at XDA Forums. The mid-range device Redmi Note 5 Pro will receive Project Treble support too.