All You Need to Know about Google's Project Treble for Faster Updates

Updated on 2017-12-14 by Tejas Upmanyu

Google Project Treble Cover Image

Google’s Project Treble: All you need to know

The commonest of the most common rant you’ll ever hear about Android smartphones (Except Google Pixel and Nexus) is the number of eons it takes to get to the latest Android release. Before you get your geek quotient out and scream at me, “Hell, yeah? I use custom flash ROMs!”, yes you can do that and that’s super cool, but is that the way for all of us in the Android world, even the granny in Nebraska, who doesn’t know a thing about ROMs and booting is just some shoe activity for her? Surely NO.

Buying an expensive INR 30,000 Android smartphone and suddenly after a year, It starts showing signs of age and while your iPhone buddies grin wildly at you by upgrading to the latest version of iOS overnight

Android has its ups and a fair share of downs. Slow and almost no updates top the list. Imagine being a normal, non-techie user and buying an expensive INR 30,000 smartphone and suddenly after a year, It starts showing signs of age and while your iPhone buddies grin wildly at you by upgrading to the latest version of iOS overnight. You are quite stuck there, even after paying a premium, your smartphone might have a year old mobile operating system in this super speedy world full of security breaches and what not.

All you need to know about project treble

If this is already seeming like Apocalyptic to you, don’t worry, this has been happening since the beginning of time for Android but there’s a silver lining coming with Android Oreo. Which you might not have heard a lot about but this could be ‘IT’ for redefining Android updates and distribution across the world, no matter what smartphone you have. Let’s dive in!

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So what is Project Treble?

Project Treble as it is called, aims to reshape the Android update and distribution landscape by providing speedy updates to Androids very soon as they release out in the open. Of course you don’t need to worry if you are a proud Pixel owner, but still, we’ll recommend you to dig deep into this article so you can help others with speedy updates in future If it gets real some bright sunny day.

Project Treble as defined by Android home page is -
“Project Treble, a major re-architect of the Android OS framework designed to make it easier, faster, and less costly for manufacturers to update devices to a new version of Android. Treble is for all new devices launching with Android 8.0 and beyond (the new architecture is already running on the Developer Preview for Pixel phones).”

So that’s enough for definitions’ sake, let’s understand, what ‘Project Treble’ means and what will it bring for you. 

Project Treble is being projected as Google’s way of fixing the super annoying and perplexing bottleneck that prevents OEMs from shipping latest Android releases on time. It is baked right into Android Oreo and represents a major redesign in Android architecture for Core OS frameworks, imparting greater modularity.

To nicely understand, what good Project Treble will do, we need to take how Android updates work presently. So here’s a graphic to make it easier.

Update cycle of android before project treble

Here are the various steps required to release a new Android update for your device, quite long and intricate right? What Project Treble does is, that it provides a “Vendor Interface” (VI). The purpose of this Vendor Interface is to distinguish Vendor’s implementation (or OEMs implementation), which refers to low-level machine-based code written specifically for your hardware, by the manufacturers from the core Android OS.

Update cycle before project treble

This new VI will justify its name by interfacing between the core Android OS and the manufacturer’s code. Vendor Test Suite (VTS) will be tasked with validation of the VI, quite like the Compatibility Test Suite (CTS) used by Google for API testing of apps.

The objective of VTS here is to ensure forward compatibility of the Vendor Interface (VI). The benefits of this major redesign are quite obvious and can be observed from the graphics.

Update Cycle after Project Treble

Earlier, the Vendor Interface needed to be updated regularly to keep up with the latest Android release, while from Oreo, Google has decided to cut the loop with Project Treble. For Information, this VI is the most complicated low-level code, that takes a lot of time to update each time, resulting late or no Android updates for your devices.

What Project Treble promises, is surely delighting and will speed up the updates. The next big question, in your mind, must be, “by how much?”, the truth is: “Not by a lot”. The explanation for this lies in the OEMs love for crafting and adding new features and experiences on top of stock Android provided by Google. And these so-called features, retouching and reworking of stock Android might eat up a lot of time, varying from vendor to vendor.

The only solace with Project Treble is that silicon manufacturers don’t need to get their hands dirty by rewriting the low-level code, every time a new Android release pops. It all depends on your handset manufacturer now and the level of redesigning your OEM puts into stock Android, at every new release.

The good news out from the center is that Project Treble is already live, starting with the first Developer Preview of Oreo and it will come to all new devices launching with Android O preinstalled. Phones updating from Android Nougat to Oreo won’t be compliant with Project Treble as it seems.

Android Oreo in Project Treble

Google’s Project Treble: Closing the gaps

Google’s approach must be appreciated, Project Treble seems very promising at first but It is not the ultimate trick Google has ever pulled and hence has its limitations, well quite many. Firstly, It is not Google handling the updates directly, It still depends on how big OEMs like Samsung, LG, and Xiaomi will take charge. Its quite evident that these big vendors won’t be nearly as fast as Google is with Pixel lineup. Project Treble is Google’s push into the OS by restructuring it to make the update process faster, It still depends a lot on handset manufacturers whether they’ll get you the updates in time or not, no promises there.

What’s important is that only handsets with Android 8.0 Oreo or above out of the box must support Project Treble. smartphones users that upgrade to Oreo from Nougat thinking they’ll now have full Treble support, that’s not true either, though OEMs can choose to if they wish. So watch out for OEMs that announce Treble support while upgrading to Oreo. Also, Its quite improbable that custom ROMs will be able to introduce Project Treble to many older devices, as lower level hardware access isn’t open source.

It came as a shock to many OnePlus fans but OnePlus 5T won’t be supporting Project Treble as it “exposes smartphones to bricking” as said by OnePlus.

Recently, It came as a shock to many OnePlus fans but OnePlus 5T won’t be supporting Project Treble as it “exposes smartphones to bricking” as said by OnePlus. Sad! As of now, Google’s Pixel series supports Treble (Obviously!) along with Huawei’s Mate 9, Mate 10, Honor 9 and Honor 8 Pro along with Essential Phone are the major devices that support Project Treble.

Project Treble Supported Devices

  1. Google Pixel Phones
  2. Huawei Mate 9
  3. Huawei Mate 10
  4. Honor 9
  5. Honor 8 Pro
  6. Essential Phone

So if you are buying an Android device anytime soon and It comes with Nougat out of the box, do make sure the device supports Project Treble for future speedy updates. As mentioned earlier, If you have a device with Android Oreo or above out of the box, you are already supported.

So, that’s a wrap, do you like Project Treble? What is your view is amazing about Project Treble? Will It be able to speed up Android updates for good? We’d like to see your views on this topic. Do give us a shoutout on Facebook and make sure to follow us on Twitter for similar and quality technical articles, We are now on Instagram(@SuggestPhone) as well. Do check us out for some great content there and be sure to follow. Till then, do well.

Sources: Android Guys | Android Home | GSMArena

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