Upgrading an existing Android device to a new version of Android can be a long and arduous process, according to Sony. Part of the issue revolves around waiting for vendors (like Qualcomm) to provide device makers (like Sony) with updated HAL source code or binaries in order to work with the new version of Android. Thanks to Project Treble, device makers can start work on the next Android version much more quickly, at least that’s the idea behind it.
We’ve talked ad nauseam about the potential benefits of Treble for custom ROM development, with many devices now capable of enjoying ROMs such as LineageOS 15.1, CarbonROM, and more on several Treble compatible devices. But there’s one question that has always lingered in the back of our minds–what happens when Android P rolls around? Will we be able to flash an Android P Generic System Image (GSI) on top of a device with an Android 8.1 Oreo vendor image? This is a question that nobody has been able to truly answer, since Android P source code is not available (and thus, an Android P GSI cannot be built), so some developers were skeptical of this ever happening.
What is being shown here is that Google is updating the Vendor Test Suite (VTS) to allow for testing an Android P GSI with an Android 8.1 Oreo vendor image. The device that this is being tested on is the Google Pixel 2 (“wahoo device“). Google tests that this configuration does in fact boot, which is a requirement for passing the VTS.
What does this mean for us? Unfortunately, it’s hard to extrapolate. We can’t say this proves that any upcoming device launching with Android 8.1 Oreo (such as the Huawei P20 or Xiaomi Mi Max 3) will be able to boot up an Android P GSI out of the box, since we don’t have more information nor do we have an Android P system image to test with. At the very least, this shows that work is progressing nicely on Treble, and once Android P source code eventually drops, we can finally put these claims to test.