Users who got to try out the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL at Verizon stores earlier this week made a number of interesting discoveries, such as the hidden dark theme embedded within the launcher. Now, another fascinating revelation has surfaced; it uses Google's new "Project Treble" modular OS architecture.
Project Treble, one of the biggest overhauls in Android's low-level system architecture, separates the core operating system from individual vendor components, and stores those components as separate modules in the form of system-embedded applications within the vendor partition. What this achieves is that it allows OEMs to develop and release new Android updates much faster and kill the ridiculous waiting times that users experience between new versions of Android being announced and landing on their devices; as well as streamlining the process of updating drivers; driver updates would no longer have to be OTA and could be performed through the Google Play store, and manufacturers would no longer have to wait for vendors like Qualcomm to update the code for their SoCs.
Users discovered the graphics drivers installed on the Pixel 2, under the name "Pixel 2017 Graphics Driver", with the package name
com.google.pixel.wahoogfxdrv. The directory of installation is
/vendor/app/wahoo_gfxdrv/wahoo_gfxdrv.apk, showing that it is a part of the vendor partition, and demonstrating how separate system drives can be modularised. While we cannot know the extent of the implementation until the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL end up in the hands of users and we get to see this form of driver update in action, it is definitely present and fascinating. We expect that this will considerably speed up the time taken by OEMs to develop and release new versions of Android when implemented on other phones, and that it may help (finally) curb the disparity between the number of users on each version of Android.
You can watch a talk about Project Treble from Google I/O 2017 here:
What do you guys think? Was this a good move by Google? Do you think we'll be seeing this more and on more smartphones over the coming year? Let us know in the comments, or post over in the forums with your thoughts.