Qualcomm promises three years of Android updates for its entire SoC lineup

Enlarge / The Snapdragon 888, sitting on the world’s largest ARM motherboard.

Google and Qualcomm are teaming as much as allow an extended help window for flagship Android smartphones. Qualcomm, with Google’s assist, will now help its chipsets for 3 years of main OS updates and 4 years of safety updates, enabling a better-than-Pixel degree for all future Android telephones, supplied your OEM is keen to cooperate. This coverage is beginning with the flagship Snapdragon 888, however even lower-end chips can be supported. Qualcomm PR tells us “the plan is to roll this out to all Snapdragon chipsets, together with lower-tier ones, however beginning the brand new Snapdragon 888 platform.”

A part of the problem of Android updates is the continual chain of software program custody that needs to be maintained, throughout a number of corporations, from the Android repository to your telephone. Google and Qualcomm now say they’re keen to go the replace baton to OEMs for 3 main updates and 4 years of safety updates, however OEMs will truly must replace their Android skins and ship working builds to every of their gadgets. If they do not, we not less than know who responsible now.

Qualcomm and Google’s weblog posts each comprise the identical phrasing, that they are going to “help 4 Android OS variations and 4 years of safety updates.” Learn that quote carefully and you will spot two totally different models of measurement taking place there, which some folks have misinterpreted. Whereas there are 4 years of safety updates, the 2 corporations are counting the preliminary launch of Android of their quote of “4 Android OS variations,” so it is three years of main Android updates, not 4 years. We double-checked with Qualcomm and bought again “Qualcomm will help the launch model + 3 OS upgrades, for a complete of 4 main Android OS variations. Snapdragon 888 will help Android 11, 12, 13, and 14.”

This is identical replace plan Pixels have gotten and what Samsung has promised, however with another yr of safety updates. Take note, Qualcomm can also be bringing this degree of help to low-end gadgets, so whereas that is solely a child step for flagship telephones, lower-end telephones might see significantly elevated help home windows.

Treble bother

Google’s weblog put up goes into element about the way it has made updating simpler for SoC producers like Qualcomm. Android’s Mission Treble re-architecture cut up the OS in half, separating the OS from the {hardware} with a modular interface. This makes it simple to run the identical construct of Android throughout a number of items of {hardware} (it is known as a Generic System Picture, or GSI). Whereas that makes issues simpler when you’re an OEM constructing an Android pores and skin, Google was apparently heaping replace necessities on SoC distributors.

SoC distributors are partly answerable for the “vendor” implementation in Mission Treble—the underside half of OS cut up that accommodates the {hardware} help. Whereas issues above the Mission Treble cut up (the software program) have been assured backward compatibility, the {hardware} help was not. For every SoC, Qualcomm would want to take care of a vendor implementation for every software program historical past permutation. Meaning one for telephones that launched with Android 10, one other for Android 11, and a 3rd for gadgets that launched with Android 10 and have been upgraded to Android 11.

This method didn’t scale properly. At the moment, Google is vaguely asserting modifications to Mission Treble that may let Qualcomm help new and upgrading gadgets with a single vendor implementation. It is also (once more, vaguely) cooked up some sort of scheme to let Qualcomm use the identical vendor implementation throughout a number of SoCs, which can reduce down on its replace work much more.

Sooner updates are slowly taking place

Google can also be taking this time to replace us on the state of the Android replace scenario. Android 11 is ever-so-slightly seeing the quickest adoption charge ever and is outpacing the earlier launch (beforehand the fastest ever), not less than by way of uncooked customers (I doubt the proportion can be a lot totally different since I doubt the total number of energetic Android customers has modified in a yr.) Because of Mission Treble, the Android 10 chart became a depraved hockey stick about 100 days after launch, and we’re not at that stage but with Android 11.

In fact, this nonetheless would not convey Android in keeping with what Apple has been doing, which is 5 years of main OS updates and seven years of safety updates for iPhones. Apple is the SoC vendor, the OS developer, and the gadget producers although, so it has fewer logistics to work out, and it would not must take care of preserving revenue margins in every step of the method.

Each Android replace announcement looks like one small step towards making the scenario higher, and nothing can be a silver bullet apart from blowing up the whole system. Nearly each sentence on this article might finish with the caveat of “in case your OEM desires to cooperate,” and for a lot of, that final hyperlink within the replace chain would be the vital one. In case your OEM would not need to play ball, properly, you already know what to do, proper? Vote together with your pockets!

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