Since Android was unveiled in 2007, one thing that is consistently heard from end users as well as device maker is that updating devices to a new Android version is incredibly time consuming and costly.
Towards solving this problem, Google with device makers is working on a new Android O based project called “Treble,” a re-architected Android O will make it easier, faster and less costly for makers to update devices to a new version of Android.
As of now, there are several steps a new Android release goes through before getting into the hands of users:
- Team Android releases latest open-source code to the world.
- Silicon manufacturers making the chips for Android devices, modify this release for their hardware.
- They than passes modified code to device makers — who modifies this release again as devices specific.
- Device makers and carriers then test and certify this modified release.
- Device makers and carriers then make the final release available to users.
With Android, a free open-source mobile operating system, Google created a compatibility program for the Developer API specified by the Compatibility Definition Document (CDD) and its associated Compatibility Test Suite (CTS), that help app developers create a single app that works across devices.
Project Treble, aims to do for Android OS framework, what CTS did for app developers, says Google. Explaning further, Google says, “a new interface between Android OS framework and the vendor implementation is being created, validated by a Vendor Test Suite (VTS), analogous to the CTS, to ensure forward compatibility of the vendor implementation.”
With this new stable “vendor interface” providing access to Android’s hardware-specific parts, device makers can easily deliver new release to consumers “by just updating Android OS framework without any additional work required from the silicon manufacturers.”
In fact, the new Project Treble architecture is already running on the Developer Preview of O for Pixel phones.
In addition to architectural changes, Google is also helping silicon and device partners to move their specific code changes into the common Android Open Source Project (AOSP) codebase. For example, “Sony and Qualcomm contributed dozens of features and hundreds of bugfixes to Android O so they no longer need to rework these patches with each new release of Android.”
A full featured documentation for Project Treble will publish with the launch of O later this summer on source.android.com.
See the current and Project Treble architecture: