One of the big advancements in Android O will be support for the new Project Treble system framework. This modular approach to Android could accelerate the update process and ensure devices are supported for longer. However, we've been hearing that Treble would only work on new devices that ship with Android O. The exception to that being the 2016 Pixels. Google engineers revealed on a podcast today that some other devices could get Treble in an update, too.
Project Treble will introduce a low-level Vendor Implementation on Android devices that interacts directly with the hardware. Unlike current updates, OEMs won't need to update drivers for the hardware in each OTA. The updated Android framework just plugs into the Vendor Implementation, which is designed to be forward-compatible. That would allow OEMs to get updates done quicker, even long after a chipset maker stops supporting the hardware.
Google previously said only the Pixels would get Treble in the Android O upgrade, which makes sense if they're being used to test and develop Treble. Google engineers Romain Guy, Iliyan Malchev, and Chet Haase expanded on what Treble will mean for Android in the latest episode of the "Android Developers Backstage" podcast. Around the 40-minute mark, they begin talking about how Treble is not retroactive... except when it is.
The Pixel gets Treble thanks to Qualcomm's assistance with the Snapdragon 821, according to the podcast. However, Google is also working with "some companies" to update flagship phones to Android O while also "Treble-izing" them. Of course, we aren't told which companies or devices are included, but there aren't too many options. It's possible this initiative won't work out, but it'll be interesting to see if any OEMs roll out Treble support in the 8.0 update.
- Android Developers Backstage
- Eddie Ringle