Google is Trying to Make Android Updates Faster Again

Google wants to give making Android updates faster another go. The company’s new initiative, Project Treble, aims to make updating smartphones to the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system “easier, faster, and less costly for manufacturers.” Essentially, Google has re-worked Android’s framework so device makers don’t have to first go through silicon manufacturers, the guys that make chips for devices, with new software updates they wanna push out to consumers.

A visual may make this easier to understand.


Google says Project Treble will do for Android OS updates what the Compatibility Test Suite did for Android apps. In case you’re not familiar, this suite allows developers to make an Android app and have it automatically accommodate devices’ form factors without having to add manual tweaks for a specific phone. This is basically the same idea behind Treble, but there’s still some flaws in Google’s plan they may wanna examine before going much further with this initiative.

For instance, the only step they’re eliminating with this project, to me, is the process of going through chip makers before smartphone makers can get the software and add their own tweaks. Sure, this way companies like Qualcomm can deliver future software updates to accommodate for new hardware without having to hold up someone like Samsung or LG in the process, but I don’t really know how much faster this is gonna make things. Software updates can still take plenty of time to develop especially if there’s a heavy skin on top, while carriers still need to certify software updates before they can begin rolling out to the general public. On unlocked phones, this step may be eliminated, but most people don’t normally buy unlocked phones and usually buy straight through their carrier.

And then there’s the biggest flaw of them all: this new modularity factor in the Android framework will only be present on phones that launch with Android O and beyond, not phones that receive an update to O. This comes with the exception of Google’s Pixel lineup that, mind you, is already first in line for software updates, so this just makes this initiative seem like it’s gonna take forever to get in the hands of many. I mean, we’re eight months in and Android Nougat is still on just 7% of devices, so it’s gonna feel like an eternity before Treble can actually have it’s five minutes of fame.

That being said, we should hear more about the new initiative come Google I/O 2017 next week. We’ll obviously have full coverage of Wednesday’s announcements so stay tuned.