Google launched Android Oreo last month. It now faces two challenges: the gradual decline in adoption of each new version and fragmentation. Android O and Project Treble lay the groundwork for trying to solve these problems.

Three months after launching Android 8 Oreo on Google I / O , the Mountain View company released the new version of its operating system on August 21 .

Much has already been said about its new features, such as improved memory management , changes in system resource management , the introduction of ‘picture in picture’ (PiP) technology , the inclusion of Android Instant Apps or incorporating the autocomplete ‘Autofill’ as well as safety improvements , thanks to the location, lock and remote wipe terminal offering  ‘Find my device’ or Google Play Protect , which scans the device daily to detect and delete automatically malicious apps.

“The aim of each new release is to improve both the user experience and the performance of the device. In this sense, this new update offers a number of improvements in terms of navigability and end user experience. It has also improved the performance of battery management , especially for those applications in the background, “explains David Martín, CDO and director of Digital & Mobile Strategy and Innovation and Digital Transformation of iphonedroid. As he explains, Android O “has a series of updates and developments that can be very interesting for the user, such as grouping notifications or PiP, for example.”

Penetration

But once the initial excitement of the release has passed, there are some shadows hovering over the new operating system. First, one might wonder what expectations Google may have and whether Android O will be able to meet them. The first question concerns the penetration foreseen for this new version. “It is true that the penetration of the new version is going to be small and will gain quota slowly. It’s difficult to know yet, “says Martin. In addition, it recognizes that the successive versions of Android each time present a penetration inferior to the previous ones. “It has mostly happened with version 7 – Android Nougat – which did not have the same penetration as the previous two,” he says.

In fact, DroidLife has verified that the peak of penetration of each new version is smaller in each new version that arrives at the market. Thus, while Android Gingerbread and Jelly Bean came to be adopted in more than 6 out of 10 devices, KitKat stayed in 4 out of 10. And while Lollipop and Marshmallow stood a maximum penetration around 30%. And  Nougat is only on 1 in 10 Android phones.

If we look at the data published by Google , we see that Android 6.0 Marshmallow is the version with greater presence, since it is installed in almost one of every three devices (32.3%) working with the green android operating system. The next most popular version is the Lollipop , which between versions 5.0 and 5.1 accounts for 29.2% of the total.  That is, Marshmallow and Lollipop, which are not even the versions immediately prior to Android O, account for 61.5% of the market.“Devices running on Lollipop will not upgrade to Marshmallow. And the data of renewal of the park of devices indicate that in the last period the terms of purchase have been extended a little, reason why the number of users with that version will not be reduced in the short term “, says the person in charge of iphonedroid.

Meanwhile, Android Nougat, with its versions 7.0 and 7.1, barely has presence in 13.5% of the devices. Its penetration is even lower than the one that maintains a version as old as the Android 4.4 KitKat (16%), that the 31 of October will turn 4 years of life.

In any case, what is clear that the market coexist several different versions of Android, since so far there are many devices running in versions such as Ice Cream Sandwich, Gingerbread or Jelly Bean, more than 5 years old.

The stumbling block of fragmentation

The multiple versions of Android that coexist in the market carry a problem that is not easy to handle. “Fragmentation in Google is much more marked than Apple, who have absolute control over their devices, while Google has something more than 60 different software companies. Due to the limitations of the software, we can not always enjoy the latest features. And while Google gives enough time to test the news, it is these companies that make the final updates and not the time that Google would like. Mainly because manufacturers do not update phones.Google may be in a hurry to make updates as fast as possible, but it can not force Samsung, for example, to pull out all of its new phones with Nougat, Oreo or another version. That’s where the so-called customization layers come into play, “ Martín says.

The Mountain View company is taking some steps to try to reduce this problem. “We want to create a consistent experience for developers globally, so we implement things like  Google Play Services, which provide a layer of API and Material Design that offers a set of visual libraries and application guidelines. In addition, with Project Treble, device makers will be able to reduce the time and effort required to upgrade a phone to a new version of Android, starting with Android O, “said Google.

On the other hand, the iphonedroid representative recalls that “with a Google Pixel phone or Nexus, fragmentation is obviously lower . But it is not the best solution to the problem either. ”

Project Treble: long-term solution

Project Treble is the most ambitious project launched by Google in order to solve the problem of fragmentation. Martin says that this project involves “the biggest change to the low-level Android architecture to date . ” It specifies that “this is a reorganization of the system architecture to avoid the bottlenecks that occur in the process since Google launches a new version of Android until it reaches the end user.”

“In addition to engineering changes that allow Project Treble to be available on all new devices launched with Android O and beyond, we are working closely with device manufacturers to get the required Android customizations and reduce their cost and complexity by upgrading to the new version of Android, “ explains the company.

However, the manager of iphonedroid believes that “it may be a solution, but not in the short term, as this new architecture will only be compatible with new devices that come to market with Android.”