For all of Android’s strengths, there’s one area where it has dramatically lagged behind iOS: updates. Fragmentation is arguably Android’s biggest problem, but in a post on the Android Developers Blog this Friday, Google revealed a new feature in Android O that will supposedly “make it easier, faster and less costly for manufacturers to update devices to a new version of Android.”
Google says that the new feature, dubbed Project Treble, represents “the biggest change to the low-level system architecture of Android to date.” As it stands, a lot of code has to be rewritten across Android before a given vendor can update its devices to the latest version of the software.
With Project Treble, vendors will be able to roll out Android updates without having to wait for chip manufacturers such as Qualcomm to modify the code to work with their chips. The entire process will be streamlined so that vendors can get Android 8.0 (and beyond) in the hands of consumers more quickly than they’ve been able to in the past. That’s what Google is promising, anyway.
Google has not been blind to the fragmentation issue over the past several years. The company has ensured Android users on multiple occasions that it’s working on solutions, but considering that just 7.1% of users are on Android 7.0 Nougat while nearly 20% are still on Android 4.4 KitKat, the success on this front has clearly been limited up to this point.
Google says that Project Treble is already running on the Android O Developer Preview for Pixel phones, but we’ll have to wait until the new version of Android begins rolling out to judge its efficacy.