O Google announced on Wednesday (16) that all Qualcomm processors released with Android 11, starting with the Snapdragon 888, will support three system version updates. In addition, SoCs will also be able to receive security updates for up to four years, which should extend the life of many smartphones in the future.
Currently, this scenario is already seen in Samsung’s advanced smartphones – the manufacturer offers updates for up to three years. The Galaxy S10, launched with Android 9 Pie, for example, is guaranteed to update to Android 12 – totaling 4 versions of the system.
Until then, Qualcomm chips supported two or three versions of Android by default. The move should allow more manufacturers to offer updates to their smartphones for longer.
A side effect of Project Treble
The change reported today is related to Project Treble, announced in 2017. The initial plan was to speed up the arrival of new versions of the system on cell phones – for this, Google has restructured certain parts of Android in order to facilitate the update for OEMs.
With Treble, with each new version of Android, generic system images (GSIs) are published with guarantee of backward compatibility with the previous three versions of the supplier’s implementation. Devices released with the new version of Android must have vendor implementations compatible with GSI, which reduces fragmentation in the structure of the operating system.
However, the process ended up impacting the way in which chipset manufacturers, such as Qualcomm, must develop their products so that they support multiple versions of the system.
To resolve this “side effect”, Google and Qualcomm have worked side by side during the past year, as explained in the statement below.
We had to extend the principle of non-retroactivity to SoCs, as well as devices. With this change, the SoC provider would be able to support Android with the same vendor’s implementations in its SoCs for device launches, as well as updates.
Over the past year, we have worked hard to implement this solution. Based on our deep collaboration with our Qualcomm colleagues, today we are announcing the results of that work. In the future, all new Qualcomm mobile platforms that take advantage of the principle of non-retroactivity for SoCs will support 4 versions of the Android operating system and 4 years of security updates.
Google has also started to reuse the same operating system framework software on multiple Qualcomm chips to reduce the number of combinations between these frameworks and the vendor implementations that SoCs must support, making the process faster and cheaper.
When will we see the impact of change?
We will probably be able to reap the results of this change starting in 2025, as the first smartphones with Snapdragon 888 will be launched next year. In addition, the “novelty” does not guarantee that all manufacturers with compatible SoCs will make updates available for so long right away – it just opens up the possibility for that to happen.
Anyway, the collaboration of large companies in the smartphone industry is interesting for Google in the fight against rival iOS. Remember that Apple is well ahead in this regard, offering updates for iPhones for five years (and sometimes more).
With information: Google, Android Police and XDA Developers