Google may opt to prevent third-party developers from accessing certain application programming interfaces (APIs) in Android 9.0 P and make the operating system somewhat more closed than its previous iterations, Chinese outlet IT Home reported earlier this month, citing an unspecified commit discovered in the repository of the Android Open Source Project. Preventing apps from calling uncertified and hidden APIs may be a direct attempt to make Android less fragmented and improve the overall consistency of the OS, though it’s presently unclear to what extent is Google willing to go in order to do so. The completely open nature of Android is one of its main strengths compared to iOS and what allows phone makers to come up with radically different takes on mobile user interfaces and general experiences, in addition to enabling the existence of a large third-party development community working on custom ROMs, theming engines, and root-reliant apps. Locking a small number of APIs wouldn’t necessarily put an end to such an ecosystem but it would still represent a clear step in that direction.
According to the same source, Google is looking to completely integrate Project Treble into Android 9.0 P after experimenting with the solution in Android 8.0 Oreo. The last stable version of the ubiquitous mobile OS allows for Project Treble but doesn’t require it as original equipment manufacturers are able to circumvent it, though they’re only allowed to do so if they’re developing an Oreo upgrade for a handset or tablet running some build of Android 7.X Nougat. With Android 9.0 P, the Alphabet-owned company will deliver the service in a deeply integrated form which will make a crucial component of the OS. Doing so will be another step in reducing the fragmentation of the platform as it will force all OEMs to separate the low-level hardware code of the software from their proprietary implementations. In practice, Project Treble should accelerate system upgrades as it won’t require vendors to rework large parts of Android’s code just so they can do something relatively simple like releasing a security patch to their devices.
While Android 9.0 P is still expected to be highly customizable, personalization isn’t one of Google‘s main focus points with the latest iteration of the OS, as per the same report. The first developer preview of the next version of Android should be released in the coming months, before this year’s iteration of the Google I/O developer conference takes place.