The open nature of the Android operating system is at the same time its greatest weakness. The main issue is posed by the fact that the Android ecosystem is very fragmented since many manufactures won’t provide more than one or two major updates and some security patches.
In order to reduce the scale of the problem Google unveiled Project Treble back in 2017. The main aim of the initiative is to allow manufactures to release the latest updates to a large number of devices in a relatively reasonable timeframe.
Android Pie is the first Android version that is able to enjoy all the features provided by Treble, being released without issues on a large number of flagships that were built with the update in mind. This should improve the amount of updates that will be provided during the lifetime of the devices.
Treble allows Google to isolate hardware-specific into an independent layer that is not a core part of the OS. This means that manufacturers are able to work on the update without the need to wait for patches made for specific hardware parts like processor and GPU.
This may not seem to be such a big thing but its’ already making a difference according to a high-ranking Google employee. In the past smartphone manufactures were forced to wait until chipset providers released hardware-specific codes for several processors. The period of time spent on developing updates was reduced by up to three months after Treble was introduced.
While Google tries its best in order to reduce the downtime between updates the manufacturers have to their share of work in order to make the process faster. Companies like HTC and LG are known for their tardy updates. Samsung and Motorola are changing their approach and the rate at which updates arrive on their device is on a positive trajectory.
It is likely that more manufacturers will be able to provide faster update in the future, as Google continues to improve Treble and Android.