Google's Mainline project, announced at I / O 2019, will provide security updates for Android devices through the Play Store. Google bypasses the traditional, slower update channels that depend on device manufacturers and operators. What does that mean for you.
Before we look at what Project Mainline means for the future, consider the problematic past of Android with updates.
Android "Fragmentation" has long been a problem
You can barely hear about Android without the word "fragmentation" appearing. Basically, this refers to the fact that different OS versions are running on different Android devices. This, of course, is in contrast to iPhones running the same operating system (all devices that support iOS 1
It's a problem that plagues Android almost since the beginning of Android – even now I have four different Android devices on hand, and all four are in different versions. Google has done much to combat this problem in the past, but really did not seem to do anything. While full Android OS updates will still be a lot of work, Project Mainline will fight what is more important: security updates.
RELATED: Fragmentation is not Android error
The Android Update Alliance has failed
In a first attempt to combat fragmentation, the Android Update Alliance became Google's I / O 2011 announced. The goal was a noble goal: to work with carriers and manufacturers to provide more timely Android updates.
We thought at the time that this was the end of fragmentation as we knew it. The bad news is that the Alliance, apart from its announcement, has done absolutely nothing to combat the slow updating process. Like, nothing .
It was so DOA that stories came out only a year later and asked what had happened to her. It never showed up; has not proven to be good at any promise. The phones were in the same sad state in which they came first: outdated and, worse, uncertain.
Then came Project Treble Came Along
Six years after the announcement of the Android Update Alliance, Google was still trying to fight the good fight and announce Project Treble. This was more than a promise to fix upgrade issues – it was a restructuring of how Android updates work, along with an actual framework to support the upgrade process. The introduction of Treble was initially slow because it was an optional update for vendors, but since Android 9.0 (Pie), support for Treble is imperative. You should therefore be able to provide more recent updates, especially for full operating system upgrades. And so far it has shown pretty positive results. We are there!
Although Google's makers are committed to security updates for at least two years, most devices do not see the monthly security updates from Pixel devices – they are typically updated quarterly. They could be exposed to pretty sketchy crap for three months at a time. That's a problem.
CONNECTED: What is the mainline project of Android and when will it be reached on my phone?
The Mainline Project Solves an Old Problem
Now we come back to today's announcement of Project Mainline. This allows Google to bypass manufacturers and send security updates through the Play Store, which is a great advantage. As an added benefit, you can apply system restart updates that are currently required to run OS updates on all Android phones. This is a small win but still a win.
This means that you may not have to spend months using a vulnerable device until the device manufacturer sends an update. That's huge.
But there is a catch: This is part of Android Q. This means you have to wait until your phone runs Google's unpublished Android build before you can use this new system. I think good things take time.
The other thing is that you have to keep your expectations in check. This does not apply to all updates . For example, Google can not send complete Android builds to your phone through the Play Store. You still have to wait for the manufacturer of your device. Maybe we'll come there someday, but this day is not today.
According to The Verge, Google will be able to update 12 different "modules" using this method, which are just smaller parts of Android like media components. This is still a huge step towards a safer future on Android.
When will your phone receive mainline updates?
This is part of Android Q, which means that your phone needs Q before it can start using Mainline. However, when the phone receives Q, is a very different question.
The good news is that Google has also announced that the Q-Beta version will be available for 15 new phones as of today. Be able to take advantage of Q and Mainline soon.
- Asus Zenfone 5z
- Essential PH-1
- Nokia 8.1
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro
- LG G8
- OnePlus 6T
- ] Oppo Reno
- Realme 3 Pro
- Sony Xperia XZ3
- Tecno Spark 3 Pro
- Vivo X27
- Vivo NEX
- Vivo NEX A
- Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G
So you are there and go – if your device is the cut you're on your way to enjoying not just what Q has to offer, but a safer phone down the line. And if not, well, maybe this list will help with your next phone purchase.