Google has released the numbers on just how effective Project Treble has been at improving the speed of Android updates.
In a post on the Android Developers blog, Google outlined the effects of Project Treble.
While you may be wondering why now, when Treble launched alongside Android 8.0, there was no way to test its impact. At the time, Treble was a significant overhaul to some of Android’s underlying architecture. This meant it couldn’t be applied to devices coming from Android 7.0 Nougat and was only available to devices that launched with Android 8.
In other words, Google couldn’t test the impact of Treble until Android 9.0 Pie came out so it could compare the upgrades to the previous release.
To measure that data, Google compared the number of devices on Android 8 in July 2018, just before Android 9 became available, to the number of devices running Pie in August 2019, just before the company launched Android 10. According to Google, Android 8 accounted for 8.9 percent of the ecosystem before 9 came out. However, Android 9 accounted for 22.6 percent of the ecosystem ahead of Android 10.
Google chose to measure adoption at these points since both those times marked a year of availability for both Android 8 and 9.
Further, Google says that its beta program also indicates the success of Treble. Project Treble allowed for more devices from more manufactures to run the Android 9 beta. Google says that in addition to its Pixel devices, seven device models from seven manufacturers supported the Android 9 beta. However, the Android 10 beta increased that to 18 devices from 12 manufacturers.
Google also discusses improvements made in Android 9 and 10 regarding updates.
For example, the search giant worked closely with silicon manufacturers to help reduce the average upgrade time by more than three months. Google expects to see upgrades from Android 9 to 10 noticeably sooner as a result.
Google also “completed the seal between the vendor and system components of Android.” The company says that this will ensure new versions of “the top part of the OS” will run on older versions provided by partners. It also formalized the interface to the Android Linux kernel, expanded the Treble test suite and more.
Because of the changes, Google received feedback from manufacturers and silicon partners indicating upgrades from Android 9 to 10 are going more smoothly.
The effects can be seen already. Some manufacturers, like Essential and Xiamoi, launched updates the same day Google announced Android 10. Other manufacturers, like OnePlus, started Android 10 beta programs that same day and began updating devices within days.
Additionally, Google says Asus, LG, Motorola, OPPO, RealMe, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Transsion and Vivo have committed to updating some devices to Android 10 by the end of the year.
Android 10 will make things better
Google closed out its blog post with some of the changes made in Android 10 to help with updates.
For example, there are Dynamic System Updates (DSU), which allows developers to install Google-signed Generic System Images (GSI) on supported devices.
GSIs include “pure Android,” and allow developers to install unmodified Android Open Source Project (AOSP) code on devices without touching the Factory ROM. This should help both with updates and with the custom ROM community.
There’s also Project Mainline, which Google says “is to the core of the Android OS what Project Treble is to its foundation.” Mainline will allow Google to update components of the OS through the Play Store directly.
While many of these changes sound complicated and confusing, Google designed them to help improve developers’ ability to build updates for devices. And while the number of devices getting faster updates may seem small, it’s important to remember that Android is a massive ecosystem with hundreds of manufacturers, processors and thousands of devices. Any improvement to update speed Google can make is a huge win for Android.