Google expedites Android updates with Project Treble

From Android O onwards, getting new versions of the OS should be faster and easier.


We're about a week away from Google probably revealing the next version of its mobile OS, but as most Android users already know, actually receiving an update might take forever. The company is aware of this, and has unveiled a new system called Project Treble that could eliminate some major delays in pushing updates to existing devices. Project Treble will come to all new devices launched with Android O and beyond, and is already running on the developer preview for Pixel phones.

Google is calling this a "modular base for Android," and says it is the biggest change to the low-level system architecture of the operating system to date.

The company explained in a blog post that feedback from its device-maker partners shows that "updating existing devices to a new version of Android is incredibly time consuming and costly." It doesn't just involve implementing new code and making sure the software works with the hardware: there are several rounds of approval involved.

After Google publishes the open-source code for the latest release, chip manufacturers have to modify the script for their hardware. They then pass the edited code to device makers, who incorporate the new software, making changes as needed. When a final version is ready, device makers have to get approval from carriers before pushing that update out to your phone.

Project Treble cuts down the amount of hardware-accessing code that needs to be written by wrapping all of it in one package that developers can just re-use across each new version of Android. This eliminates the need for chip makers to modify the original open-source code that Google releases and speeds up the approval process.

Since the company is calling this a "modular base," it is likely that more bundles are coming to the base Android code. There aren't many other details on how this system will work just yet, but given Google I/O is happening next week, we expect to hear more very soon.