It seems that Google is really thinking hard about how to solve one of Android’s perennial problems – the issue of getting an Android version update from Google to end users as quickly as possible. One of the suggestions was to make Android modular, and that is what Project Treble apparently is – a way to separate the base Android OS framework in a module away from everything the silicon manufacturers, OEMs, and carriers add to the OS.
In a bombshell announcement on its blog, Google said that Project Treble might be a way to solve Android’s update issues. Treble aims to modularize the Android OS, separating the OS framework code from “vendor specific” hardware code. In theory, this structure would allow for a new Android update to be flashed on a device without any involvement from the silicon vendor. Google says it is “the biggest change to the low-level system architecture of Android to date,” and it’s already live on the Google Pixel’s Android O Developer Preview.
To make things clear, this is only “step one” of an albeit smoother process in getting an Android version quickly to end users. In theory, you can flash a new Android version to a device directly, as long as silicon manufacturer, OEM, and the mobile carrier will now want to add or change anything to the new Android OS module.
As it is, the motivations of OEMs and mobile carriers will still be a big obstacle for updates to reach users. Google notes that, “One thing we’ve consistently heard from our device-maker partners is that updating existing devices to a new version of Android is incredibly time consuming and costly.” Updating Android will still be a tedious and costly process because OEMs and carriers are still affected negatively, in that updating a device actually hurts companies’ bottom lines. But Treble is a good start – Google is showing us that there is a way to resolve this issue.