With Andy Rubin back at the helm and the company sticking to its promise of timely updates, Essential looks to start 2018 on a high note, with the company’s recent Reddit AMA giving us a bit of insight into how it plans to kick off the new year.
First up is Project Treble, Google‘s software initiative that will supposedly lead to faster Android updates. Essential already confirmed it will implement support for Project Treble in the Essential Phone‘s Android 8.1 Oreo release, though the company gave us a bit of insight into the update process itself.
When Google does an AOSP release, it’s not like when a new version of Windows releases and you can install it on your PC that day. There is a significant amount of work to go from AOSP to a release.
You have to integrate it to your chipset and to all the unique components that make up your electrical design. Even though Pixel 2 and PH-1 have the same Snapdragon 835, both have closed source pieces that aren’t released as part of AOSP.
Once you’ve done the integration, you debug any new issues, stabilize any second order bugs like battery life and performance. At that point, you are ready to put your customizations back on top. Then, finally, you can make a release.
We are really enthusiastic about how Treble will improve this process and we’re starting to see that pay off in 8.1.
Essential also addressed applications that have not taken advantage of the added screen real estate and said it reached out to developers to try and improve this. In the meantime, Essential is working on a “switch” within Settings that forces apps to run in full-screen mode, though the company urges people to reach out to developers so they can update their apps.
Meanwhile, Essential said it made “modem changes” in the upcoming Android 8.1 release that will hopefully address cell reception issues that some Essential Phone owners have had. The company concedes that the effectiveness of these changes will depend on how severe your cell reception issues are, though “modem stability should definitely improve.”
While we are on the topic of bug fixes, Essential apologized for taking its time with touch latency and scrolling fixes, saying that “there are trade-offs we are testing internally.” The goal, said Essential, is to provide some kind of optimization in the Android 8.1 release.
Essential also confirmed that whatever comes after the third Oreo beta for the Essential Phone will include support for Qualcomm’s aptX audio codec, which promises to improve Bluetooth sound quality. The third Oreo beta also includes Google’s January security patch and fixes for Spectre and Meltdown, with Essential still finalizing logistics for the stable Oreo release.
Finally, Essential has moved away from bi-weekly to monthly AMAs, with the company holding one on the third Wednesday of each month.
You can read the full Reddit AMA here.