What is Treble and how do I check the compatibility of my device?
By Felicity Rosa 2019-06-05 702 0
Major Android updates, usually introduced in the spring, have had a big problem for years: they take a long time to appear on smartphones. The fault lies in one of the greatest qualities of the ecosystem: its personalization.
We can see it now: the distribution of Android versions is far from being an example for the market. However, the Android 8.0 Oreo update brought with it the best hope that we have to find a solution to this problem: Treble. Here's how it works, and how to check that your smartphone is compatible.
Treble thoroughly reviews how Android works
While Oreo was not an update that brought about major aesthetic changes, it did significantly review the low-level operation of the operating system. You see, the Android update cycle as it is currently the most widespread works like this:
1.An Android update is deployed by Google
2.Manufacturers make it compatible with their chips
3.Manufacturers adapt it for each of their terminals
4.Operators also make their modifications if necessary
5.Users receive it on their phones
With Treble, Google has made the Android architecture modular to facilitate the deployment of updates, in the same philosophy as when it separated the Play Services from its OS. Before Treble, the manufacturer's implementation was linked to the operating system, forcing their developers to modify large parts of the Android code with each update.
After Treble, manufacturers' implementations are separated from Android framework updates. As a result, they can update devices more quickly and efficiently, without having to rewrite part of the original code.
However, this compatibility is at the free choice of the manufacturers, who can refuse to implement this new organization when it comes to upgrading from a smartphone to Oreo. Note that Treble requires that an unedited version of Android can be started on the target device (without necessarily being accessible to users), which is not to the taste of all brands.
There is also the problem of changes to the Android framework made by manufacturers, particularly for their custom interfaces. To address this, a new modular model is also being considered by Google in the future.
Check its compatibility with Treble
First of all, it is important to note that Treble has only been implemented since Android 8.0 Oreo. If your smartphone has not yet been updated, or simply never will be, it is useless to do the test: you will not benefit from it. On the other hand, all smartphones released natively under Android 8.0 Oreo (or higher) are required to be compatible with Treble. If your smartphone is released in 2018, or later, so there is a good chance you will benefit from it.
If your phone is compatible, you can therefore expect updates to arrive faster in the future. If it is not, it is because the manufacturer preferred to remain on the old model, for its own reasons.
Android Pie: a first example of the benefits of Treble
In 2018, during the development of Android 9.0 Pie, Google was able to offer a beta version of its update on 12 smartphones from different brands including OnePlus, Sony, Xiaomi or Nokia. These devices had in common their compatibility with Treble, and the good relations of the manufacturers with Google.
We can also note that the deployment of Android 9.0 Pie was done rather quickly on a number of devices, with in particular the Essential Phone which received a stable update at the same time as Google's Pixels, on D-day. However, while deployment is faster than before, there is still a long way to go to match iOS.
Treble and the installation of a generic version of Android
Thanks to the new architecture enabled by Treble, it is much easier for hackers to adapt updates on their smartphones in an unofficial way. In a few days after the official release of Andorid 9.0 Pie, more than a dozen smartphones were able to benefit from a global version of the system.
As long as the smartphone is compatible with Treble, and has an unlocked bootloader, it is very easy to install a new version of Android developed with this architecture in mind. A solution that is not really accessible to the first time around, but which shows the new possibilities offered by Treble.
Apex: the future of updates?
It seems that Google wants to go even further with Android Q and its new project called Apex. Thanks to a new modification of the system, it would become possible to carry out complete smartphone updates directly from the Google Play Store. This is still a bit of a fuzzy project that may not come to fruition so soon, but it nevertheless gives an indication of the path taken by Google.
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