Whoever said what, but Android has always been wrong with updates. Even though in the last couple of years the situation has started to improve gradually and the manufacturers began to behave more responsibly, the terms of software support even for flagship smartphones still do not exceed two years. Usually, it is explained by either technical limitation of the operating system or not enough high-performance hardware themselves, which stop updating for the third year. Fortunately, it is possible to fix the situation, and it seems that Google decided to do it.
Android is based on a highly modified Linux kernel. Initially, its change seemed to be a necessary measure to expand the functionality of compatible devices, but now Google developers are planning to return to the original kernel. They talked about it at the Linux Plumbers Conference. According to them, it will reduce costs for Google and third-party vendors when adapting new versions of the operating system, as it will save them from the need to process vast amounts of data.
Who and why changes the Android kernel
Modifying the Linux kernel for Android was not only Google's work, but also the work of the hardware vendors and smartphone manufacturers themselves, making the changes they felt were necessary for the correct operation. Year by year, the adjustments were only accumulated, and when a new version of the OS was released, manufacturers had to combine them, spending too much time on this process. To simplify the process of updating, in 2017, Google introduced the modular architecture of Project Treble, which allowed to separate high-level software from low-level software. It has slightly improved the position of Android, but the victory was far from over.
It is possible to change the situation, but it will not be easy, given how much of it will have to be rolled back. Nevertheless, already now, Google has a project of the stock version of Android, built on the original Linux kernel. It is not very stable yet, and its functionality leaves much to be desired, but the fact that the company's developers have managed to roll back, already shows a lot. Still, if Google can simplify the base of the operating system, it will reduce the time required to adapt updates, and perhaps even extend the cycle of software support for smartphones, because the technical limitations will be a multiple of less.
How the Android smartphone market will change?It's not very clear how Google's desire to get back to using the original Linux kernel will be responded to by smartphone manufacturers. The fact is that many of them use their shells, which differ from the stock version of Android quite significantly. To achieve this, they have to recycle the kernel. And if Google forbids it, it is possible that the shell and firmware based on Android, can be severely damaged, losing the flexibility that they were given the changes made.
On the one hand, the strengthening of control over Android by Google will lead to the fact that the composition of the operating system will be more comfortable and faster to update, which cannot but please. In this case, there is hope that the standard cycle of software support for smartphones will increase from two to three, and maybe even four years. But, on the other hand, there is a great chance to kill the openness of Android, which will cease to be a stronghold of freedom, where all those who are tired of being closed iOS and where you can do anything you want.