There are some parts of mobile operating systems like Google Android that can only be updated by pushing out a new version of the OS. But over the past few years, Google has uncoupled a bunch of core features of the operating system so that updates can be delivered via the Google Play Store and updates to Google Play Services.

While the company still can’t seem to manage an emoji update without releasing a new version of Android, soon you’ll be able to update the graphics drivers on your device through the Play Store.

Speaking at the Android Fireside Chat during the Google IO developer conference, Google’s Android graphics team manager Romain Guy said “we now, in O, have the ability to update the graphics driver from the Play Store.”

That’s about all that was said on the topic, so we’ll probably have to wait for Android O to launch later this year to find out how it works. And it’ll probably be up to chip designers and device makers to work with Google to actually implement the feature, so there’s no guarantee that new graphics drivers will roll out to all devices as soon as they’re available. But at least now it’s a possibility.

As Android Police notes, this is likely due to Google’s new Project Treble, which separates out the Android OS framework from vendor-specific changes, which should theoretically make it easier for device makers and wireless carriers to push updates to users more quickly.

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4 replies on “Google Android graphics drivers will be updatable via the Play Store”

  1. This does NOT matter in the slightest. It won’t mean faster, or even better updates.
    Case in point: Nexus 5, can’t get the updated driver stack to support Nougat because the GPU doesn’t support Vulkan API.

    The only way this approach of modular updates would work well for an ecosystem, is if it was designed that way from the start. Unfortunately that is not how Android was built, it was built in-terms of compatibility in mind. So this means you can forget about a well-supported ecosystem like iOS, or a tiered ecosystem like Windows 7/8/10.

    Android ecosystem in terms of support is simply a Wild-Wild-West scenario. Before the only way to stay up to date was to run custom firmware, but this is slowly getting controlled and locked out. Then the next way was to get a Nexus device… and that seems to be out too.

    Now the only way to go forward is to tolerate the buggy software that is TouchWiz, and spend $1,000 every year upgrading your phone. Just wait a little bit to root the device, and void your warranty. Once rooted, you can then transfer all your previous progress from your older expensive device to the new one. Then you have to sell your old phone for half the cost. There is no alternative to this besides getting an iPhone.

  2. So, my S6 got updated last night to Android Nougat and I will probably wait till new phones with Android O are being sold before I change my phone. I was really impressed that my 2 years old phone got this update.

    1. God, I wish my Note 3 would get an update this big. There was some security update from Samsung last December, but nothing else in the past 2 years or so.

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