It's no secret that one of the easiest to point out critiques of Android is the lack of major software updates for the majority of handsets. While this has gotten slightly better over the years, new Android releases still take a substantial amount of time to roll out to existing phones, if they do at all.
However, with Android 8.0 (Oreo), Google began to address some of the core technical issues preventing phone manufacturers from quickly releasing software updates through an initiative they call Project Treble.
Essentially, Project Treble decouples the Android Operating System from the proprietary software bits such as drivers needed to provide support for a given SoC. Instead, Android 8.0 and up moves the SoC support to a separate software layer, which a vendor like Qualcomm can universally implement for their SoCs and pass to a handset maker, instead of needing to be implemented into software updates for each specific model of phone.
Qualcomm announced earlier this week that they have been working with Google ahead of the Android P developer preview release to "pre-integrate" support for the next version of the operating system with Qualcomm Snapdragon-powered devices, specifically devices with Snapdragon 845, 660 and 636.
We are already starting to see some of this work pay off, with an expanded list of devices that are already compatible with the Android P developer preview, as compared to previous Android betas.
In addition to the standard Google development devices, the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, and Pixel 2 XL, other various other phone makers are rolling out options to enroll in the Android P developer preview program, including:
- Essential Phone (Snapdragon 835)
- Nokia 7 Plus (Snapdragon 660)
- Oppo R15 Pro (Snapdragon 660)
- Sony Xperia XZ2 (Snapdragon 845)
- Vivo X21 & X21UD (Snapdragon 660)
- Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S (Snapdragon 845)
Despite Qualcomm's work with Google on Android P "pre-integration", the ball remains in the court of OEMs like Samsung, and carriers to push these updates through to consumers.