For many years android users all over the world have complained about one thing and that is “Slow Software Updates“. In android even the flagship level devices have to wait for several months for an android updates and OMEs face backlash for this. Software updates are necessary because of the growing smartphone user base across the planet.
In India alone, there are reports that more than 500 million people use smartphone, out of which more than 75% of them are on the internet. The numbers prove that there is lot of data that can get into wrong hands and could be used for evil purposes. So with new features, software updates android brings critical security patches and improved system stability.
Android updates are slow but in 2017 something happened, Google announced Project Treble. Let’s understand what actually Project Treble is and how it’s helping smartphone OEMs to push updates faster than before. We first need to understand the process of pushing a new android version into smartphone.
1. Google releases the source code for the new android version also known as ASOP Release.
2. Smartphone processor manufacturers like Qualcomm, Samsung, HiSilicon, Mediatek, etc. They modify the source code, so that the given software can run on their chipset flawlessly and could boot on the devices.
3. The chipset makers then push the modified source code to OEMs like (Samsung, Xiaomi, Realme, Nokia, Oneplus, etc.), they then modify the source code again to add their own skin on it like Realme UI 2.O, MIUI 12, Oxygen OS, etc.
4. OEMs then test the software internally, to make sure proper running of it and with that they also test the software with carriers of that region.
5. After all this the software is released for the general public which is received as OTA (Over The Air) updates.
Google is generally very quick at pushing android updates, but it has no control over step 4 and step 5. Because of such long delays, Google stepped in and found a new way to reduce the time taken to perform step 2. The team of developers re-articate Android at a lower level so that it can be easy for the chipset OEMs to update and test their source code. For this Google introduced Vendor Interface.
The Vendor Interface is similar to the functions of CDD (Compatibility Definition Document) and CTS (Compatibility Test Suite), both of these ensures that the OEMs must know what changes they need to make in order to make Google Play Services and the Android run on their particular chipsets.
The Vendor Interface is validated by the VTS (Vendor Test Suite) so the chipset OEMs know that what changes are to be made so that Android can boot up on their chips. One of the main benefit is, thar now Android smartphone OEMs can update their phones by updating the Android OS framework without having to wait for the chipset makers to modify the source code.
Now let’s come to the partnership between Google and Qualcomm. After the rollout of Project Treble, smartphone OEMs could now roll out software updates and security patches fastly,, but Project Treble had a bad impact on the chipset makers as it increased their engineering cost. It also increased the complexity with the Android OS update provided for it’s chips.
Today Google announced that all Snapdragon processor are being upgraded to Android 11 starting from Snapdragon 888, will receive 3 OS updates and 4 years of security patches updates. And that is an additional year added to the previous 800 series. When Android 11 was release Google announced 667 million smartphone users were on Android 10.
Most of them have received the update through OTA updates. Google said Project Treble helped smartphone OEMs push Android and security updates quickly than before.
As OnePlus 9, Galaxy S21’s, Xiaomi Mi 11 are going to launch very soon carrying Snapdragon 888 chipsets, we can expect that these devices in future will get updated to Android 14 when it arrives and will get continued software updates till year 2024. We hope more chipset makers will partner with Google to compete with the likes of high end and midranges of Qualcomm.