07 January 2019
Google debuted Project Treble last year with the goal of making software update release faster for Android devices. It is basically a redesign of the architecture to speed up the whole process where device makers spend time tweaking the new Android version as per their custom UIs. But using this very same project, Google is now considering making future Android versions available for users ahead of the AOSP release.
This can be made possible by using a key Project Treble component called Generic System Image (GSI). It is described as a pure and unmodified build of the Android version available on AOSP. It does not feature any kind of customizations, be it from the device maker or carrier. Additionally, it is mandatory for a Treble-compliant device to support for GSI booting on top of the existing vendor implementations. It is also compulsory for device makers to run tests like CTS-on-GSI (Compatibility Test Suite on Generic System Image) and VTS (Vendor Test Suite).
Hung-Ying Tyan, member of Project Treble team talked about GSI at length during the Android Dev Summit 2018. This is when he described how GSI can be used for releasing upcoming Android version faster and way earlier. It will also make it possible for anyone with a Treble-compatible device to download, run a newer Android version, and provide feedback. Although, the process of flashing a GSI is trickier than flashing a ROM.
During the presentation, Tyan said,
“GSI is the central piece in Treble compliance. We feel that it has a lot more potential than that. We set out a goal to make GSI be more accessible and useful, not just for device makers but also the general public including app developers like you and even consumers. An important first step toward that goal is to make GSI available in AOSP. So for this, we have published pie-gsi in AOSP. So now you can download and build pie-gsi today. We are also exploring ways to make future GSI available earlier than the release of the next Android version. So you will be able to try out next Android version earlier over GSI. And at the same time we can also get early feedback from you, so the benefit is mutual. So please stay tuned for our further announcement on this.”
This whole idea of allowing everyone to try out new Android version is quite impressive, it will take significant time before it can be turned into reality. We will keep an eye on all the developments surrounding the same and keep you updated.