What is Project Treble and future updates of Android OS

The biggest problem of the Android operating system is a long update. It is clear that Nexus and Pixel devices system updates come out very quickly, but unfortunately other OEMs should wait quite a long time until will be released a special version, which the company will finalize. Many users complaining for a very long time on this issue.

That’s just with the release of Android 8.0 Oreo Google has just announced a special structure new OS called Project Treble. This structure will accelerate the process of upgrading the operating system to OEMs, several times. Project Treble is perhaps one of the biggest changes in Android Oreo. In this article we will tell you how it will affect Android in the future.

Why you need a Project Treble

Many people criticize Android because of the fact that most top-end devices still operate on outdated operating system, while even very old iPhone 5S received the update to iOS 11. All this criticism, in part, not credible. After all, Apple makes its operating system only for the iPhone, and Google for a large number of other manufacturers.

But since smartphones are becoming more and more important role in human life: storing huge amounts of personal data, financial details, pictures, etc., so to obtain the latest security patches and fresh updates of the OS very important.

The problem of slow updates is that slots software Android interact with underlying hardware of the phone. For applications run on the CPU or use the camera, the OS needs to interact with the connected hardware through the abstraction layer hardware (HAL).

This is very important, especially if you want to have a third party app from the Play Store worked with the camera of any phone. HAL designed as a low-level driver agnostic. Below is the Linux kernel, which handles hardware connection between HAL and the exact components of the phone. It needs to be compiled depending on the specific hardware of the smartphone.

The problem with Android Nougat 7.0 and older versions is that there was no separation between hardware code low-level manufacturers and operating system code AOSP a higher level. Therefore, companies had to wait for each manufacturer processors optimizes the new OS, and only then the companies have modified them to fit their smartphones.

Project Treble designed just for this problem. He will be able to separate the Android OS from the hardware implementation of the supplier code that allows Google and the OEM manufacturers to update the OS without having to reconfigure all the hardware components of the lower level.

It is clear that all manufacturers want to add more their new capabilities within the OS. And it all takes a lot of time even though the presence of the Treble Project. But, in any case, with this structure, the updates will come out faster since the time to optimize the OS will be reduced several times.

How to work the new updates

It is very important know that Android uses the Linux kernel. It is part of the operating system, which handles commands to input and output certain data. In other words, thanks to him, the software interacts with the hardware. To make any changes in the Android OS, will also have to change the system work with the Linux kernel.

To solve the problem of level of abstraction of hardware, Android has got the Oreo separation between auxiliary systems such as audio or camera, and their customers from the software. These new sections define the interface between HAL and its users. At the moment there are about 60 such sections for the various hardware components (HIDL).

The main purpose of HIDL — luxury to change the framework without having to modify the HAL. HAL will create the smartphone manufacturers and processors. They will be embedded in the device. Thanks to this framework can change after updates (OTA) without having to change HAL. To upgrade devices that are running earlier versions of Android to Android Oreo, will have to go through the old update procedure. And then you can safely go to Project Treble.

Also a very important innovation was the fact that support for the Linux kernel grew from 2 to 6 years, thanks to Project Treble. If before the device (not from Google) to receive updates for one year, now this time can increase several times.

As you can see, the transition to Project Treble needs a bit of work on the part of equipment manufacturers. Once this change is implemented by all the OEMs on their devices, they will not have to work on the changes in the new OS. It will be necessary only to update the framework is an old operating system to a new one.

The official description of the Project Treble States that all new devices will be released with Android Oreo on Board will have the support of the structure. This means that smartphones that will be updated with Android 7.0 to 8.0, most likely will not support it. For example, the recently released OnePlus 5T, which out of the box running on Android Nougat. But at the same time, the first generation of smartphones Pixel after upgrading to Android 8.0 Oreo received support from Project Treble.

Course Project Treble does not imply that all smartphones will receive the updates instantly, because Google doesn’t handle them directly. OEMs will continue to add some changes to the system, and to implement their own software. Therefore, the addition of their functions, and then test the new OS will take some time. And then they can send updates to smartphones. In any case, the procedure will take much less time.

Effects Project Treble

From the point of view of the user, the OS upgrade will arrive in exactly the same way as now. The company will still be able to redirect the OTA update that you can download in the background. Only, this process will happen a little bit faster and also to increase the period of support devices.

Thanks to Project Treble the developers of the custom firmware will be able to more quickly optimize the operating system for a specific smartphone. If that previously required weeks, or even months, now all this can be done in a couple days.

The majority of users of the resource XDA’re already excited about the prospects. Developer under the name “OldDroid” called it a breakthrough. He managed to install custom firmware Android Oreo for Huawei Mate 9, for which there were no third-party firmware Android Nougat.

Perhaps we are approaching the time when software Android OS can be easily ported to different devices, like Windows can work with a huge range of hardware configurations with the minimum requirements. But at the moment it is not the purpose of the Project Treble.

Conclusion

Project Treble sounds very promising, but should understand that it has limitations. First, it is not a direct update from Google. These smartphone manufacturers such as Samsung, Huawei and LG continue to bear the responsibility for collecting and updating the OS in their products. And this won’t happen as fast as Google Pixel. Treble is to optimise the structure of the OS for faster updates from manufacturers. Google did their part, now it all depends on third-party companies.

Second, only Android phones 8.0 Oreo and newer out of the box needs to support Project Treble. The smartphones that will be upgraded to Oreo should not fully support the Treble, although manufacturers may implement this if you want. It is also unlikely that a custom firmware will be able to maintain the Treble on many older devices, because access to low-level hardware is not open source.

If you’re looking for a smartphone with support for Project Treble, at the moment there are several options: Pixel / Pixel 2, Essential Phone, Huawei Mate 9, Mate 10, Honor Honor 8 and 9 Pro. It is not clear what other OEMs plan to support Treble in their existing devices. Of course, the flagships of next year preloaded with Android Oreo will be quick updates. And this is very good news for the owners of Android-devices.

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