Back in 2017, Google announced Project Treble, a modular redesign of Android’s low-level system architecture that was supposed to reduce the time it took for phone manufacturers to update their devices with the latest version of its mobile operating system. A new partnership between Google and Qualcomm, the company that makes the Snapdragon processors you find in most Android phones, will see the two companies work together to improve Project Treble and further simplify the update process for devices that feature a Qualcomm chipset.
They say their partnership will help reduce the time and resources manufacturers need to invest to update their phones with Google’s latest software, thereby extending the life of their products. Moving forward, any Snapdragon-equipped device that supports Project Treble will allow for up to four major Android platform upgrades and four years of security patches. The version of Android a phone launches with is included in the first part of that promise, which means most high-end phones will get an additional year of security updates.
That is much clearer. It's the same three years of updates you currently get with Pixels, +1 more year of security updates.
— Ron Amadeo (@RonAmadeo) December 16, 2020
The first phones that will take advantage of the enhancements to Project Treble are those that will feature Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 chip, which will start making its way to high-end devices early next year. Qualcomm later clarified it plans to support its lower-tier chips in this same way.
Of course, all of this won’t do you any good if you own a phone without a Snapdragon processor. While Qualcomm is the most prominent chipmaker in the Android space, it’s not the only one. A lot of entry-level and mid-range phones run MediaTek processors. It’s also important to point out this isn’t a policy Google will require companies like Samsung and OnePlus have to adhere to. The search giant is merely working with Qualcomm to make it easier for manufacturers to support their devices for longer.
Still, in a world where most flagship Android phones don’t receive more than three years of OS updates, and some less expensive devices get as little as two years of support, this is a step in the right direction.