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Google and Qualcomm are working together for faster Android updates

Google and Qualcomm are working together for faster Android updates


Starting with the Snapdragon 888

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Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

Qualcomm and Google have announced they’ll be working to expand Project Treble, Google’s ambitious multiyear project that aims to simplify OS updates so it’s easier for device manufacturers to upgrade phones and tablets to new Android versions without worrying about Qualcomm’s chipset-specific software.

The goal is to make it even easier for users to get the latest version of Android on their phones (something that isn’t always guaranteed) and to ensure that new Qualcomm chips will support four Android OS updates and four years of security updates — a huge leap forward from what most Android phones usually offer. Such a feat, if actually accomplished, would put Android smartphones closer to Apple’s iPhones in terms of long-term software support.

The goal is four years of Android OS updates

What Qualcomm and Google are doing here is a bit technical, but essentially, it boils down to a similar application of the existing strategy for Project Treble, which itself breaks Android down into different pieces. Thanks to Project Treble, OEMs can (in theory) just use the updated piece of Google’s software without having to worry about waiting for updated components from silicon companies, like Qualcomm.

The new approach with Qualcomm makes it easier for the chipmaker by cutting down on the added combinations of software that it was forced to support (thanks to earlier Treble efforts), allowing for faster updates — at least, in theory.

The catch is that it’ll take a few years until we can see what, if any, benefits this program creates for accelerating the Android update cycle or extending device longevity. That’s because Qualcomm is only making this commitment for future devices, starting with the upcoming Snapdragon 888 (set to arrive in phones in early 2021).