Faster Adoption with Project Treble

Posted by Iliyan Malchev, Project Treble Architect

Android P Beta available at android.com/beta

As Android continues to evolve, each new release of the OS brings new features, new user experiences, and better security. It is important that these new releases find their way to mobile devices as fast as possible.

Yesterday, we announced that the following devices, in addition to Pixel and Pixel 2, now support Android P Beta: Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Nokia 7 Plus, Oppo R15 Pro, Vivo X21, OnePlus 6 and Essential PH‑1. Android P Beta provides an opportunity for developers and early adopters around the world to try the latest Android release, test their apps, and provide feedback.

In this post, we provide an update to Project Treble and the technology that allowed us to bring Android Beta to more phones this year.

Building the Foundation

Bringing the new Android release quickly to the hands of users takes a combined effort between Google, silicon manufacturers (SM), device manufacturers (OEMs), and carriers. This process is technically challenging and requires aligning the schedules between our industry partners.

To reduce the technical difficulties, we launched Project Treble as part of Android Oreo.

The Silicon Manufacturers

Next, to capitalize on the foundation we built, we collaborated closely with the silicon manufacturers, where the journey of making an Android device always begins.

Any device with the latest version of Android must be based on an SoC with the proper software support for it. This software, commonly referred to as the Board Support Package (BSP), contains not only the chip-specific vendor implementation, but also all of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) and pieces of the framework that are missing from AOSP itself (e.g., carrier-specific telephony functionality).

The life cycle of an Android Dessert release passes through Silicon Manufacturer Partners, Device Makers and Carriers, until it gets to the hands of the end-users.

These BSPs are the starting point for all device launches. OEMs adapt the vendor implementation to their hardware and add their own custom framework components.

While silicon manufacturers always want the latest version of Android in their BSPs, the costs have been prohibitive. By making it possible for newer AOSP frameworks to run on older, already-released vendor implementations, Project Treble dramatically reduces the need for continuous investment in older silicon to support each Android release. Silicon manufacturers have to do all this work just once, rather than every time there is a new release of Android.

Solving the Timing Problem

However, that first time still has to happen. Below is a chart, which illustrates the effort the various actors expend over time as they go through each release. You can think of it as code churn or bug count over time.

Overlapping timelines and efforts for dessert adoption among Android, Chip Support and OEMs increase the overall effort to get the Android release out.

The chart shows how there is very little time in the year for Google, silicon manufacturers, and the OEMs to all this work. Any overlap between phases causes code churn and introduces significant schedule risk. For OEMs who target the holiday season, it is often safer to launch on an older BSP with a year-old or even older Android version. This dynamic has been at the heart of the slow uptake of the latest Android release, even on flagship devices.

Qualcomm, Samsung and MediaTek co-develop their BSP with Android.

To solve this, we’ve worked closely with Qualcomm, MediaTek and Samsung SLSI to co-develop their BSPs, starting with Android P. Their BSPs are now ready for Android P on a much-accelerated schedule, reducing the overall effort significantly. These silicon manufacturers are now able to provide a stable and high-quality release much earlier than before, allowing OEMs to bring the latest innovations of Android to their customers across the globe.

Devices can launch earlier with Project Treble as the timeline for developing Android and Chipset Support overlaps.

This is an important step in accelerating the adoption of Android releases that bring numerous benefits to our partners, users, and Android developers. We look forward to seeing many more partners launch or upgrade devices to Android P.

Say Hello to Android Things 1.0

Posted by Dave Smith, Developer Advocate for IoT

Android Things is Google’s managed OS that enables you to build and maintain Internet of Things devices at scale. We provide a robust platform that does the heavy lifting with certified hardware, rich developer APIs, and secure managed software updates using Google’s back-end infrastructure, so you can focus on building your product.

After a developer preview with over 100,000 SDK downloads, we’re releasing Android Things 1.0 to developers today with long-term support for production devices. Developer feedback and engagement has been critical in our journey towards 1.0, and we are grateful to the over 10,000 developers who have provided us feedback through the issue tracker, at workshop events, and through our Google+ community.

Powerful production hardware

Today, we are announcing support for new System-on-Modules (SoMs) based on the NXP i.MX8M, Qualcomm SDA212, Qualcomm SDA624, and MediaTek MT8516 hardware platforms. These modules are certified for production use with guaranteed long-term support for three years, making it easier to bring prototypes to market. Development hardware and reference designs for these SoMs will be available in the coming months.



New SoMs from NXP, Qualcomm, and MediaTek

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B and NXP i.MX7D devices will continue to be supported as developer hardware for you to prototype and test your product ideas. Support for the NXP i.MX6UL devices will not continue. See the updated supported platforms page for more details on the differences between production and prototype hardware.

Secure software updates

One of the core tenets of Android Things is powering devices that remain secure over time. Providing timely software updates over-the-air (OTA) is a fundamental part of that. Stability fixes and security patches are supported on production hardware platforms, and automatic updates are enabled for all devices by default. For each long-term support version, Google will offer free stability fixes and security patches for three years, with additional options for extended support. Even after the official support window ends, you will still be able to continue to push app updates to your devices. See the program policies for more details on software update support.

Use of the Android Things Console for software updates is limited to 100 active devices for non-commercial use. Developers who intend to ship a commercial product running Android Things must sign a distribution agreement with Google to remove the device limit. Review the updated terms in the Android Things SDK License Agreement and Console Terms of Service.

Hardware configuration

The Android Things Console includes a new interface to configure hardware peripherals, enabling build-time control of the Peripheral I/O connections available and device properties such as GPIO resistors and I2C bus speed. This feature will continue to be expanded in future releases to encompass more peripheral hardware configurations.

Production ready

Over the past several months, we’ve worked closely with partners to bring products built on Android Things to market. These include Smart Speakers from LG and iHome and Smart Displays from Lenovo, LG, and JBL, which showcase powerful capabilities like Google Assistant and Google Cast. These products are hitting shelves between now and the end of summer.

Startups and agencies are also using Android Things to prototype innovative ideas for a diverse set of use-cases. Here are some examples we are really excited about:

  • Byteflies: Docking station that securely transmits wearable health data to the cloud
  • Mirego: Network of large photo displays driven by public photo booths in downtown Montreal

If you’re building a new product powered by Android Things, we want to work with you too! We are introducing a special limited program to partner with the Android Things team for technical guidance and support building your product. Space is limited and we can’t accept everyone. If your company is interested in learning more, please let us know here.

Additional resources

Take a look at the full release notes for Android Things 1.0, and head over to the Android Things Console to begin validating your devices for production with the 1.0 system image. Visit the developer site to learn more about the platform and explore androidthings.withgoogle.com to get started with kits, sample code, and community projects. Finally, join Google’s IoT Developers Community on Google+ to let us know what you’re building with Android Things!