OnePlus is currently rolling out a software update to the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T that will add Project Treble support for the two devices. This new software upgrade, which is identified as OxygenOS 5.1.6, is now rolling out in stages, and it may take several days before all devices receive the update. Aside from adding support for Project Treble, the latest software upgrade installs the October 2018 Android Security Patch, which fixes 26 vulnerabilities found in the Android operating system. Furthermore, the software update fixes the instability of the smartphones’ Bluetooth connection when making calls and it also adds support for the VoLTE service of the Indian carrier IDEA.
Background: Project Treble is a feature created by Google that makes it easier for manufacturers to develop and release software upgrades to devices that support this functionality. This feature separates the framework of the Android operating system from the system images developed by the chipset vendor, and it takes advantage of a vendor interface that grants the operating system access to both the system images and the hardware components of the device. The separation of the operating system framework from the vendor-developed system images means that the device makers no longer have to wait for chipset makers like Qualcomm and MediaTek to modify their system images before the handset manufacturers can distribute the operating system upgrades to supported devices.
Google introduced the Project Treble feature as part of Android Oreo, and all devices that ship with Android 8.0 Oreo or newer out of the box support this functionality. A number of tech companies, like Huawei and Essential, also rolled out Project Treble support to older devices. However, several device makers opted to not deploy Project Treble to devices that launched with Android Nougat or older, and among these manufacturers are OnePlus and HMD Global. OnePlus did not initially deploy Project Treble to the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T, which both launched with Android Nougat, after it found in its initial testing that adding the feature to the two smartphones, which requires the introduction of a new storage partition, may result in bricking the device. An official of OnePlus further noted that other manufacturers who have rolled out Project Treble to older handsets may have already designed their storage partitions to accommodate the requirements of Project Treble. However, after making those pronouncements, OnePlus started extending Project Treble support for both the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T as part of a beta build that rolled out to its users last July.
Impact: The deployment of Project Treble support to the stable build of OxygenOS for the OnePlus 5 and the OnePlus 5T could result in faster development and roll out of updates for the two devices. It should be noted that both handsets are scheduled to receive Android Pie in the near future, and the rollout of Project Treble support for both devices may directly impact the development of the Android Pie build for both devices. However, OnePlus has yet to provide a specific date for the release of the operating system upgrade to the two devices.