Android O will allow graphics driver updates from Play Store

JC Torres - May 22, 2017, 3:15 am CDT
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Android O will allow graphics driver updates from Play Store

In some ways, mobile platforms have influenced trends in the desktop space, from minimalist user interfaces to app sandboxes to sanctioned app stores. It seems, however, that the next trend will be going in the opposite direction, with desktop platforms influencing the “plumbing” of mobile operating systems. That is, perhaps, nowhere more evident in the upcoming Android O, which will have an update system not so unlike desktop OS updates. Like being able to update graphics chip drivers independently, downloading the updates from the Play Store.

Android’s update metamorphosis actually started in Android Nougat where it borrowed the A/B update system from Chrome OS. In a nutshell, this means that two copies of the OS is kept and one is updated in the background and then swapped on reboot. This not only minimizes the downtime experienced by users but also makes it easier to roll back to a previously working version.

Google has already introduced Treble, coming in Android O. Treble practically turns Android into a bigger layered cake, where the OEMs need not concern themselves with the underlying plumbing to create their custom experiences. Linux users will probably be most familiar with this setup, where they can easily their desktop environments without touching the lower level parts.

The latest piece of the puzzle came from I/O 2017, though with little in the way of explanation. In a Fireside Chat, Romain Guy remarked that it will be possible in Android O to update graphics drivers directly from the Play Store, independent of the overall OS firmware image. This more granular system has a couple of benefits, primary of which is that chip makers and OEMs can rollout important updates without having to fuss about waiting for a larger, comprehensive firmware update that, as history tells us, usually never comes.

With Android O, Google is decoupling the low-level workings of the operating system from pieces that are usually upgraded more frequently. In short, it is giving is hardware partners fewer and fewer excuses not to push updates faster and more regularly. Whether those partners play their part, however, has yet to be seen.

VIA: Android Police


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