Android Pie and Project Treble: Assessing Google’s grand upgrade fix

If you’ve read this column for long, you know I tend to be the skeptical sort — especially when it comes to talk of fixes for Android’s long-standing upgrade problem.

The reason is simple: I’ve tracked Android upgrades closely from the start, and I’ve seen numerous attempts to get device-makers to step up their game. There was the short-lived Android Update Alliance, announced to much fanfare at Google I/O 2011 and then never mentioned again. There was the launch of the Android preview program in 2014, which was hailed by many as being the long-awaited answer to slow and unreliable upgrades. And then there were the efforts to make the preview program more effective each subsequent year, with increasingly early previews and extended windows of time between the initial and final releases.

And yet, with each passing year, the majority of manufacturers’ performance with OS upgrades has only continued to get worse — to an almost comical degree, as of late.

So here we are, in 2018, with Android Pie fresh out of the oven — and again, we’re hearing talk about how this will be the year it all gets fixed. This time, the answer comes in the form of Project Treble, an ambitious effort to create a modular base for Android that separates the hardware-specific code — the bits related to the processor and other lower-level elements — from the rest of the operating system.

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