Could Google’s Android O possibly go modular? Google’s own Romain Guy, Android Graphics Team Manager just revealed that his team has been working on making it so that device graphics drivers can be updated through the Play Store. The functionality should be ready for select devices by the time Android O is officially released.
Android users could potentially update their graphics drivers without having to download and flash a time-consuming system update. OEMs and driver developers will need to collaborate a little bit, however. Regardless, developers will be able to troubleshoot without diving into the system software, while OEMs will not need to build updates and have them approved by vendors before being released.
This development may be related to Project Treble. Project Treble is essentially a vendor interface that will lie between the Android OS framework and the individual manufacturer’s software. The manufacturer’s software is specific to each device and developed mostly by chip-makers. Project Treble will be powered by Vendor Test Suite (VTS) and help to make sure that the chips inside in each device will function correctly with each Android update.
It is important to note that Project Treble will not be applicable on older devices and will only be available on newer devices with Android O and beyond. It is currently unclear whether manufacturers will still need to update Android’s code for each device, or if Project Treble will do the work for them. Project Treble is currently available on Google's Pixel phones using the O Developer Preview.
There is also a chance for this graphics drivers update to increase Vulkan support and less popular devices could potentially gain better graphics as a result.
Google’s goal is to speed-up updates and reduce Android fragmentation. Android Nougat was released eight months ago, but is only available on roughly 7% of Android devices. Project Treble, and the graphics drivers updates that may accompany it, would hopefully advance and streamline the update process, potentially making them more widely available and sooner.