Google’s next OS Android Q could be made available for testing to users, developers, even before the Android Open Source Project (AOSP) source code is released, according to reports. This was hinted by a Google executive Hung-ying Tyan at the Android Developer Summit 2018. Google is exploring the idea of offering the earlier versions of Android Q through a pre-built GSI (Generic System Image), which is part of Google’s Project Treble. GSI is the pure unmodified form of Android without any customizations from the smartphone manufacturer and it is built from the AOSP.
While Tyan did not mention any timeline, it is believed that the change could be put in place for testing of Android Q. Addressing a talk on the subject “Understand the impact of Generic System Images” Tyan who is member of Google’s Project Treble, stressed on the potential of the GSI in terms of the Android Open Source Project (AOSP).
AOSP lets developers test new features, or build apps for Android updates, but the GSI for Android Q could usher in more changes.
The big deal here is that Google might open this GSI to regular users as well, which would mean any Android phone which is Project Treble compliant will be able to test out Android Q, if the company goes with this approach, according to XDA Developers.
“We are also exploring ways to make future GSI available earlier than the release of 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,” he was quoted as saying.
Tyan added later on that the new testing system would look to create “GSI without the need to flash GSI onto a device”. This is also important because in many phones the bootloader is locked and users cannot really try out the new software without flashing it.
In a scenario where the GSI can be installed without flashing the phone, a lot more users could get a taste of the new Android Q, especially given many might not be familiar with the process for flashing their phones. With Project Treble, the idea is to make Android upgrades easier and quicker for all device makers, which has been a major problem on Android.
Project Treble is aimed at offering quick Android updates to non-Google phones, to allow faster adoption of newer versions. Currently, OnePlus, Honor, Huawei and Xiaomi offer Project Treble support for some of its phones. This is also why devices like OnePlus 6, Essential phone, etc were eligible for the Android Pie beta.