Google has announced Project Treble, which is a solution to arguably the biggest problem of the Android mobile operating system.
That problem, of course, is the slow pace at which Android updates are rolled out by device manufacturers to smartphones, leading to fragmentation with smartphones on different Android versions and exposing users to security risks.
What Is Google's Project Treble?
Google describes Project Treble, which will be introduced by Google to Android-powered devices with the upcoming Android O, as the biggest change to date for the low-level system architecture of Android.
According to the Android Developers blog post that announced Project Treble, device manufacturers have complained that rolling out updates to bring smartphones and tablets to the latest version of Android is both costly and time-consuming.
Google is able to roll out Android updates to its own products including the Pixel smartphones and Nexus devices, but for owners of devices from third-party manufacturers, the wait for Android updates is a very long one.
Google said that the problem will be solved by Project Treble, which will make it faster, less costly, and overall much easier for manufacturers to release upgrades that will take devices to new versions of Android.
A simple explanation for Project Treble is that Google has split the work it does on Android and the work that its hardware partners do. With Project Treble in place on Android O, device manufacturers such as Samsung will be able to release Android updates to their devices without waiting for chip partners such as Qualcomm to first release their own software updates.
Project Treble will not instantly solve all the issues for rolling out Android updates, though. While it will make things much simpler for manufacturers who use stock versions of Android in their devices, companies such as Samsung who customize every nook and cranny of the mobile operating system for their smartphones will still need to do a lot of work once an Android update comes along.
Android Fragmentation Still A Problem
The fragmentation problem of Android has improved over time, but it is still a major problem for owners of Android-powered devices. Android 7.0 Nougat, the last major version of the mobile operating system, is only installed on 7 percent of Android devices despite being launched eight months ago.
To further illustrate the Android fragmentation problem, Android Jelly Bean is on more devices than Android Nougat, despite the fact that Google moved on from it four years ago.
Google has been trying to look for a solution and even went as far as saying that it will shame device makers who push out Android updates late. Project Treble is the latest attempt in trying to solve Android fragmentation, though it remains to be seen whether it will be more effective at it than previous initiatives.
There is also the problem that Project Treble will not be applied to older versions of Android. Who knows when a significant portion of Android devices will be updated to Android O to benefit from the initiative?
Google will be holding the annual I/O conference for developers on May 17 to May 19, so we should learn more about Project Treble in a few days.