Google's Project Mainline, announced at I / O 2019, will deliver security updates to Android devices via the Play Store. Google bypasses the traditional, slower update channels depending on manufacturers and carriers. This is what this means to you.
Before we can look at any Project Mainline for the future, it is probably best to consider Android's troubled past in terms of updates.
Android "Fragmentation" has long been a problem
You can hardly hear anything about Android without the word "fragmentation" coming up. Basically, this refers to the fact that different Android devices all have different versions of the operating system. This, of course, is in contrast to the iPhone, which all have the same operating system (all devices that support iOS 12 are running iOS 12, for example).
It's a problem that has plagued Android almost since Android started – even now I have four different Android devices in arm length and all four have different versions. Google has done a lot to try and fight this issue in the past, but nothing has seemed really to pan out. While full Android OS updates will still be something that will take a lot of work, Project Mainline will fight what is probably more important: security updates.
RELATED: Fragmentation is not Android's Fault, It's Manufacturers
Android Update Alliance Failed
In a first attempt to combat fragmentation, Android Update Alliance was announced on Google I / O 2011. The goal was noble: to work with carriers and manufacturers to provide more current Android updates.
At that time, we believed that this would be the end of the fragmentation we knew. The bad news is that the alliance did not do anything to combat the slow update process, except he announced it existed. Like nothing .
It was so DOA that stories came out as little as a year later asking what happened to it. It never occurred; Never proved good on any of the promises. It left phones in the same sad state as they were in the first place: outdated and inferior, insecure.
When Project Treble Came Along
Six years after the Android Update Alliance was announced, Google was still trying to fight the good fight and announced the Project Treble. This was more than a promise to fix update issues. It was a restructuring of how Android updates work with an actual framework built to help the update process. Treble adoption was initially slow as it was an optional update for manufacturers, but from Android 9.0 (Pie) support for Treble is mandatory.
This means theoretically that building and shipping updates for Android phones are easier for all manufacturers. Thus, they should be able to provide more up-to-date updates, especially for full operating system upgrades. And so far, it has shown some pretty positive results. We'll get there!
Although Google requires manufacturers to undertake at least two years of security updates, most devices do not see the monthly security updates that Pixel devices do – they are usually updated quarterly, meaning they may be vulnerable to some pretty sketchy crap for three months at a time. It's a problem.
RELATED: What is Android's Mainline project, and when will my phone get it?
Project Mainline is the solution to an old old problem
So now we come back to today's project Mainline message. This allows Google to bypass the manufacturers and send security updates via the Play Store, which will be very beneficial. As an added benefit, it can apply updates with the need for system startup, which is currently required to apply OS updates to all Android phones. It's a small profit, but a win anyway.
This means that you no longer need to handle a compromised device for potential months at a time until the manufacturer's manufacturer sends an update. It's huge.
But there is a catch: This is part of Android Q. That means you have to wait until your phone runs Google's still unreleased Android building before you can take advantage of the new system. Good things take time, I guess.
The other thing worth noting is that you have to keep your expectations in check. This does not apply to for all updates. For example, Google cannot send full Android buildings to your phone through the Play Store. You still have to wait for the device manufacturer to do so. Maybe one day we get there, but that day is not today.
According to The Verge, Google will be able to update 12 different "modules" with this method, which are only smaller parts of Android as media components. Yet this is a huge step for a safer future on Android.
When will your phone receive updates from the headphone?
This is part of Android Q, so that means the phone needs Q before it can start using Mainline. However, when the phone gets Q, it is a completely different issue.
The good news is that Google also announced that the Q server is coming to 15 new phones from today – if the phone is on the list, then you can start benefiting from Q and Mainline pretty soon.
- Asus Zenfone 5z
- Essential PH-1
- Nokia 8.1
- Huawei Mate 20 Pro
- LG G8
- OnePlus 6T
- OnePlus 6T
- ] Oppo Reno
- Realme 3 Pro
- Sony Xperia XZ3
- Tecno Spark 3 Pro
- Vivo X27
- Vivo NEX S
- Vivo NEX A
- Xiaomi Mi 9
- Xiaomi Mi MIX 3 5G
So there you are and where you go – if your device did the clip, you are good at not only enjoying what Q has to offer but a safer phone across the board. And if not, yes, maybe this list will help you determine your next phone purchase.