Android – back on the Treble project

What impact on the development of alternative ROMs?

Android alternative ROMs, a last resort for smartphone users for whom the manufacturer no longer provides support, benefit from the launch of Android Oreo (the latest version of Google’s mobile operating system). According to opinions gathered on the specialized site “XDA developers”, the new operating system is well on track to give a new breath to the development of customized system images.

It must indeed take into account the fact that Oreo is a break with its predecessors. And for good reason, the architecture of the operating system is special and its details, recorded in the documentation of the Treble project which was also published on this platform last May.

Google has not made the economy of developments in this project. Oreo separates the hardware abstraction layers put in place by the chip makers of the operating system framework. “Treble-enabled smartphones have partitions dedicated to backing up hardware abstraction layers [by chipmaker],” reports XDA Developers.

The measure is intended to speed up the process of updating the operating system. Under these conditions, in fact, the original equipment manufacturer is not conditioned by the provision of the hardware abstraction layer to work on an update of the operating system. It is also expected that chip manufacturers can proceed with the release of hardware abstraction layer updates through the Play Store. Google ensures the quality of the “chip maker interface” through its Vendor Test Suite (VTS) certification tests which, if successful, make the device a “Treble compatible” device.

According to developments at the XDA Developers, the Treble project is already bearing fruit. One of the requirements of the VTS certification test suite is that a device is able to boot with an AOSP ROM build. So far, contributors to the site have managed to compile an AOSP ROM identical to the one that Google makes available to OEMs.

“We have an AOSP ROM that we are sure we can use to boot Treble compatible. The bulk of the work was done by the original chip and equipment manufacturers, “reports the XDA Developers site.

Pixel smartphones are de facto excellent candidates for experimentation with this ROM as tailor-made for them. Contributors to the site report using the ROM to start smartphones from three different original equipment manufacturers (Huawei Mate 9, Sony Xperia Z1 and an Essential Phone).

This is a promising prospect for owners of Treble compatible smartphones. We are entitled to think that the community will ensure that the lifespan of their devices can be extended in case of abandonment by the manufacturer. There is still some work to do as reported by the contributors. They also note that the path taken by chip and original equipment manufacturers significantly reduces the ROM development work for additional devices. Contributors from all sides, on your marks, ready, go!

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