Android 8.0 Oreo Introducing Project Treble
Google released Android 8.0 Oreo in August 2017. One of the changes introduced with Android Oreo is Project Treble, which is designed to simplify and accelerate Android software updates. Project Treble was first showcased by Google back in May 2017 and centres around Google’s desire to reduce Android version fragmentation. In other words, Google is helping manufacturers to update their smartphones to the current version of Android.
Currently, when a manufacturer wishes to update the software version of a device, it must go through a large number of steps and processes. Part of this includes low-level software development work such that the operating system is able to communicate with the hardware. This requires cooperation from silicon vendors – and this takes time, which ultimately costs money. Project Treble is Google’s way of improving things by separating this low-level development work from the Android operating system. It means that it will be significantly easier for manufacturers to update devices with new platform versions, and could result in much faster software updates. Manufacturers will have far less software to build and test, and if I were being cynical, there will be fewer excuses as to why devices do not receive timely updates if at all. Google is also rumoured to be working with a number of big name smartphone manufacturers to introduce Project Treble technology, said to include HTC and Samsung.
You might be wondering if fragmentation is always a bad thing, and why we should care. It’s not always a bad thing: fragmentation also means choice, as a range of different hardware is compatible with Android and over the years we’ve seen a range of smartphones with and without hardware keyboards, different sizes of screens, and other variables. From a software perspective, Google Play Services can bring newer software features to older versions of Android. Both Google and smartphone vendors are releasing and updating their portfolio of apps via the Google Play Store. Since Android 5.0 Lollipop introduced the Material Design user interface, Google has polished and refined the interface, but on the face of it, a device running a near-stock interface looks largely the same from version 5.0 to version 8.0. However, newer versions of Android are supported by regular monthly security updates, so whilst the device may look and feel the same, it is more robust running the later Android version.