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Project Mainline was one of the most welcome improvements in Android 10 and it's already credited for delivering some valuable security patches and subtle enhancements. With Android 11, the role of Project Mainline will be growing even more substantial and will introduce 12 new modules that will open up even more potential for Android to improve without the need for full blown firmware updates.
When first introduced, eight components within Android were isolated and turned into the updatable modules that made up the initial footprint for Project Mainline. Components were largely chosen based on how closely they were tied to security and privacy, like multimedia decoders (remember Stagefright), components in the networking stack, and permission management.
Android 11 more than doubles this count by adding twelve additional modules to the list, bringing the total to twenty. Unlike the first group, some of these new modules will have direct relationships with users and developers rather than just existing in the background. It's also now possible for modules to add new API calls in the future for developers, which may simplify some app and game development tasks if it means less version-specific code must be written.
Among the new additions, there's a permissions module aimed at managing user and developer access to privacy controls, a media provider with a file manager designed around Scoped Storage, and an NNAPI (Neural Networks API) module that can not only get updates to improve performance, but can also extend new API calls to better support new devices and OS versions.
The full list of modules hasn't been posted yet, but we'll update when Google posts additional details.