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Android 12 will make it easier to deliver some OS updates

You could get more system updates through the Google Play Store.

Published onNovember 25, 2020

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  • Google is making Android Runtime a module in Project Mainline for Android 12.
  • This could make it easier to deliver OS updates through the Play Store.
  • It could also lead to more consistent behavior across phones.

Google introduced Project Mainline to improve access to Android updates, and you might see another big boost to OS upgrades with the release of Android 12. XDA developer luca020400 has noticed that Google is turning Android Runtime (aka ART) into a Mainline module, making it possible to push updates to the key system component through the Play Store.

ART translates an Android app’s bytecode into native machine instructions. If Google wanted to change how Android 12 (and future releases) translated code, it could send those tweaks at any point instead of relying on conventional OS revisions. You wouldn’t have to wait weeks or months for a functionality improvement or a security fix.

Related: Google should require two years of updates for every Android phone

The move could have tangible effects on the devices and apps you use, if not always for the better. XDA noted that Google could deliver more consistency for apps by making ART behave the same way on all Android devices. A vendor couldn’t break a favorite program. However, it would also strip device makers of some of the customization they’re used to. If they tweaked ART for performance or flexibility, you could lose those perks.

Still, Google might decide it’s worth the sacrifice. As you’ve told us, Android updates are important to many users. Android 12 could partly address complaints that OEMs lag on or skip OS releases, not to mention reduce compatibility headaches. This still wouldn’t fix some problems with Android updates, but it could make all the difference if there’s a zero-day exploit needing fixes well before conventional scheduled patches arrive.

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