With some of the changes to expand availability of the Android P Developer Preview 2 that were announced at Google I/O 2018, attention is once again drawn to the state of Android version distribution. Even though Android 8.0 Oreo has been around for several months, adoption is still at just 5% of the market and it appears the general strategy of most phone manufacturers is to provide at most one Android update and then hope users upgrade to a new phone for the second one. Google’s Project Treble is supposed to combat the problems with new version updates for Android and it is getting a boost thanks to new, joint work with Qualcomm.
According to Qualcomm, the new joint effort is targeting their Snapdragon 845, Snapdragon 660 and Snapdragon 636 processors. That means it is limited to the newest devices on the market, but it is good news that Qualcomm is not limiting the effort to just the flagship level processor. Since this is only the start, it is also a good sign that Qualcomm and Google will work to expand this to other chips in the portfolio across more market segments.
The new joint effort is designed to streamline the process of getting an updated Android version ready for devices through implementation of a common development infrastructure. By doing this, one step in a chain of events needed to get a particular device ready for a consumer update to the latest Android can be shortened significantly. Qualcomm says they are projecting up to 12 weeks may be eliminated from the typical cycle, or about three months.
When looking at recent devices using older chips, like the update for the Samsung Galaxy S8 phones, from the official release to when widespread adoption started to occur, roughly six months passed. so a 12 week savings is almost half the cycle.
Accelerating Android updates has been a slow process for Google, but with Project Treble finally coming to fruition it is good to see partnerships like this one with Qualcomm to help translate things into actual time savings.