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Android team explains how Project Treble will (and won't) improve Android

Members of the Android engineering team at Google are participating in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) today. Find a list of the team members participating here.

One of the questions was about Project Treble and was wondering if thinking it could fix Android fragmentation was too optimistic. The response from the Android team explains most of what we need to know about Treble, and affirms many of the guesses crafted from the information we did have.

Devices launching with Android O will come Treble-enabled out of the box. Project Treble will make it easier, faster and less costly for device maker partners when these devices are updated in the future. In addition to the engineering changes, which enable Project Treble on all new devices launched with Android O and beyond, we're working closely with device makers and silicon manufacturers to both get required Android customizations (such as carrier-specific requirements) into AOSP, and reduce their cost and complexity when updating to the new version of Android. For example, Sony and Qualcomm have already contributed dozens of features and hundreds of bugfixes into AOSP so they no longer need to rework these patches with each new release of Android.We'll publish more information about Project Treble on soon.

Read the comment thread in its entirety

We know from Google I/O 2017 that many companies who make the components were asking for something like Project Treble, and seeing Qualcomm already taking advantage is a great sign. Further confirmation that smartphone makers have to incorporate Project Treble in new models is also good to hear.

We want Treble to make a significant difference. The existing way is obviously broken, so we can't help but hope the next step is better. These early indications keep us hopeful.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Jerry Hildenbrand

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

  • I know the Pixel didn't launch with Android O, but I remember hearing it was going to support it. Is that true?
  • From Android Police
    " Dave Burke (VP of engineering for Android) revealed that the current Google Pixel and Pixel XL will work with Project Treble. Normally, only phones that ship with Android O will work with Treble, but the Pixel will be an exception."
    source:Android Police
  • Android Treble Clef.
  • Yay fix it!
  • Treble still won't fix the carrier "testing" process (though with the recent 911 reboot issues surrounding the OnePlus 5 and possibly other handsets, some might say that's a good thing).
  • It also doesn't fix the underlying problem: OEMs and carriers don't have a financial reason to bother upgrading older phones and tablets. They don't make money when you get a firmware upgrade... they get money when you have to buy a new device to get an upgrade. Treble will make it easier for OEMs to build even more slightly different phones with different chipsets so they can scale functionality to match target market income levels. Until the architecture of core Android is fixed in such a way that all themes are a true overlay, of not and actual replacement for the core Android system, and until full system upgrades can come from one independent source (ie: Google) without OEM or carrier interference (and speaking of, the ITU defines protocols and standards for cell phones... get the certification process out of the hands of the carriers.. I'm looking at YOU Verizon.. if my phone is certified for GSM/UTMS/CDMA/TDMA/LTE and it doesn't work on your network, it's YOUR NETWORK that's the problem), then nothing is going to change. Maybe most readers are too young to remember it, but we've been going through this problem over and over all the way back to Windows Mobile 5.
  • means not worth getting a new phone without O?