Google to split Android? ‘Project Treble’ to make the Smartphone OS modular for easier and reliable updates

Google Android Project Treble
Google splitting up Android under Project Treble for faster updates? Pic credit: Pasi Mämmelä/Pixabay

Google is splitting its Android operating system. The move may appear drastic, and it is indeed significant. However, the company is doing so to offer better and faster updates for a prolonged period of time.

Google wants to make updating its Android OS easier and simpler. The company isn’t looking at end-users. Instead, it is focusing on its hardware manufacturing partners, and more specifically, the SoC (System on a Chip) makers.

Android’s Project Treble re-architecture to split the OS in half:

Google is about to alter the way Android, the dominant smartphone operating system, is updated. The company is preparing to spilt the OS into two core components.

The restructuring is part of Google Project Treble. It involves separating the Android OS from the hardware with a modular interface.

Google indicates doing so will make it easy to run the same build of Android across multiple pieces of hardware. The software industry calls this process Generic System Image, or GSI. While end-users might rejoice, Original Equipment Manufacturers or OEM will obviously grumble.

OEM will rightly feel Google is heaping update requirements on SoC vendors. However, every OEM smartphone manufacturer that relies on Google’s Android, be it Samsung, Xiaomi, OnePlus, Oppo, Vivo, etc. slaps its own custom skin atop Android’s base layer.

Google’s Android Project Treble meant for better SoC supply and OS update?

Google Android Project Treble is actually aimed at SoC manufacturers, particularly Qualcomm. However, in the future, others such as MediaTek could adopt the same as well. SoC suppliers are partly responsible for the “vendor” implementation in Project Treble

The SoC makers were previously responsible for the bottom half (under the hood) of the OS split that contains the hardware support. Aspects above the surface, such as the UI elements or the software usually work with multiple software iterations. However, hardware support remained sketchy at best.

With Project Treble, Google will apparently let Qualcomm support new and upgrading devices with a single vendor implementation. This would, in theory, cut down on update work even more.

Interestingly, the effects of Project Treble are clearly visible in Android 10. Google sent out this version of Android much faster than previous iterations of the smartphone OS. The same effect could soon be visible with Android 11.

Although Google’s intentions with Project Treble appear altruistic, the OEMs, the SoC manufacturers, and several other parties need to play ball and cooperate. In other words, Google might reafy Android updates sooner. But dozens of OEMs make Android smartphones, and they could delay the upgrade process.

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