Google introduced Treble on Android Oreo and we are still a bit skeptical of its success. However, Google seems confident that in the future it will mean that mobile phones can be launched earlier and with the recent Android version.
Year after year we get desperate watching the slow deployment of Android and mobile updates that are released with old versions of Android, months after they were released (I do not look at anyone… Samsung). As detailed by Google in a new post about Treble, this dynamic would have the days countedthanks to Treble.
A matter of timing
As you probably know, the key element of Treble is that low-level drivers do not need to be updated every time there is an Android update. Technically, these controllers receive the name of Board Support Package or PSB and the creators of SoC until now began to work on them after Google closed the last RC (Release Candidate) of Android.
When this interface has been developed to an acceptable level, mobile manufacturers, or OEMs, begin to develop and test the Android modifications on AOSP that they will include in their devices. The process overlaps with the development of the controllers, which means additional work and more time until the mobile is ready for sale.
With Treble the panorama changes. Google has started working with Qualcomm, MediaTek and Samsung to accelerate the support process for each Android chip. With Treble said support is in a different layer, so you do not need to rewrite it again every time there is an update.
This means that the work of Google and chip makers ends at the same time and manufacturers can start to implement their modifications much earlier (according to Google graphics, three months before). With the fastest software ready, manufacturers are free to launch the devices also faster.
Less mobile launched with older versions
Google also comments in its publication the reason why some manufacturers choose to launch their phones with an expired version of Android: the lack of time. With so little margin and the Christmas season just around the corner, it is safer for some manufacturers to opt for an older version with an older BSP (controllers).
Thanks to Treble, this dynamic should change in the future, as manufacturers will now have a longer time to add their modifications before launch. Following the same estimations of Google, if before the modifications of the OEMs were already going to May / June of the following year, Treble should be in February or March.
With only 5.7% of devices with Oreo in the last month, it’s still a bit early to start noticing Treble changes, but now that officially all new models must be launched with Oreo, there is hope that the year that comes the processes are faster.