Aside from potentially speeding up Android updates, a Google developer reveal Project Treble could allow users to test Android Q before its AOSP release.
Every device that launches with Android 8.0 is required to support Project Treble, which splits the Android OS from the low-level software drivers that controlled a phone’s hardware. This allows manufacturers to update Android without updating all those software drivers.
A crucial part of how this works is Generic System Images (GSIs). Google mandates that Treble-compliant devices be able to boot into a GSI. This also happens to be how Project Treble could allow users earlier access to new Android builds.
At the Android Dev Summit, Google engineer Hung-ying Tyan said that the company was “exploring ways to make future GSIs available earlier than the release of the next Android version.”
While this could be good for enthusiasts, it’s excellent for app developers. Instead of updating their hardware, running an emulator, or using ‘semi-GSIs’ hacked from Pixel devices, app developers can install an official Google GSI on their existing Treble-compatible device. In the case of a new Android update, this would make it easy for developers to test their apps for the new software.
Finally, the search giant also recognized that flashing a GSI can be tricky. Tyan says the company is working on a way for users to test a GSI without flashing it onto a device.
Ultimately, you’re not likely to see a benefit from this right now. However, when Android Q comes out, we could see faster app updates to support new features. Further, we could also see more devices supporting the Q beta through GSIs.