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Home > New Gear > Project Mainline changes Android update
Project Mainline changes Android update

Project Mainline changes Android update

By  Felicity Rosa 2019-05-11 201 0

Google Project Mainline, announced on I/O 2019, delivers security updates for Android devices via the Play Store. Google is dependent on device manufacturers and carriers to bypass the traditional, slower update channels. Here's what this means for you.

Project Mainline


Before we can see what Project Mainline means for the future, but it is probably best to consider Android's troubled past when it comes to updates.

Android fragmentation: the main problem

You can barely hear anything about Android come without the word "fragmentation". Basically, this refers to the fact that different Android devices are all running different versions of the operating system. This is, of course, unlike iPhone, which all use the same operating system (all devices with support for iOS-12 are compatible with iOS 12, for example).


It's a problem that has plagued Android almost since Android began-self now, I have four different Android devices with arm-length, and all four are under different versions. Google has done a lot to try to combat this problem in the past, but nothing has seemed really good. While full-fledged Android OS updates are still something to be, that will take a lot of work, Project Mainline will have to combat what is probably more important: security updates.

The Android update alliance has failed

In a first attempt to combat the fragmentation of the Android Update Alliance was announced at the Google I/O 2011. The goal was a noble: work with network operators and manufacturers to provide more timely Android updates.


At the time, we thought that would be the end of fragmentation as we knew it. The bad news is that, outside the announcement that it is stocked, the alliance has absolutely nothing to combat the slow update process. How, nothing.


It was so DOA, the stories came out as little as a year later asking what happened. It never showed up, never proved, anyone who promises that. He left phones in the same sad condition you were in the first place: the out-of-date and, worse still, unsafe.

The Project Mainline is coming

Six years after the Android Update Alliance was announced, Google was still trying to fight the good fight and announced Project heights. This was more than a promise to update problems-it was a restructuring as Android updates work together with a current framework built to support the update process. Height adoption was initially slower than it was an optional update for the manufacturer, but as of Android 9.0 (Pie), support for Treble is mandatory.


Theoretically this means creating and sending updates for Android phones is easier for all manufacturers. So, you should be able to get more timely updates, especially for full OS upgrades. And so far, it has turned out some pretty positive results. We always are!


Still, despite Google requiring manufacturers to commit at least two years of security updates, most devices don't see the monthly security updates that pixel devices usually give you every quarter, which means you'll be vulnerable to some pretty patchy crap for three months at a time. That's a problem.

Project mainline is the solution to Android fragmentation

So now we come back to today's Mainline Announcement project. This allows Google to bypass the manufacturers and send security updates via the Play Store, which will be massively beneficial. As an added benefit, you will be able to apply updates associated with the need for rebooting the system, which currently requires OS updates for all Android phones. This is a small victory, but a victory nevertheless.


This means that you no longer have to deal with a compromised device for possibly months at a time until you send your device to the manufacturer for an update. That's huge.


But there's a catch: it's part of the Android-Q. That means you have to wait until your phone with Google to build yet unpublished Android before you will be able to take advantage of this new system. The good things take their time, I think.


The other thing worth mentioning is that you need to keep your expectations in check. This does not apply to all updates from Google will not be able to send full-fledged Android builds to your mobile phone via the Play Store, for example. You will still have to wait on your device to do the manufacturer. Maybe someday we'll get it, but that day isn't today.


According to The Verge, Google will be able to update 12 different "modules" using this method, which will use only smaller parts of Android, such as media components. Nevertheless, this is a huge step for a secure future on Android.

When will your phone get mainline updates ?

This is part of the Android Q, which means that your phone will need Q before you can begin to take advantage of Mainline. If your phone Q, however, is a completely different question.


The good news is that Google has also announced that the Q-beta will come 15 new phones from today-if your phone is on the list, then you may be able to start taking advantage of Q and Mainline pretty soon.


So there you are, and there you go-if your device made the cut, you're on your way to not only enjoying what Q has to offer, but a more secure phone all along the line. And if not, well, maybe this list will help you to decide your next mobile phone purchase.

 

 You may also want to read:
 Android Q: Google will probably replace the back button with a gesture - so it can be activated
  Google 2019 Preview: Android Q
 Android Q: Google tests Swipe Back gesture in the style of iPhone X navigation

 

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