Everything You Need to Know About Google’s Project Mainline

project mainline
One thing for which Android OS has been more often criticized is the lack of regular and fast updates. It must cover certain areas before meeting the expectations of the masses. But Google is still making these updates as fast and efficient as possible. And it's the latest project, Project Mainline, that will surely help make these updates available to everyone much faster and more efficiently. What is Google's Google Mainline project, what are its components, how does it work, and how will it affect us as Android users? You will find the answers below.

Mainline will make its way alongside Android 10. Now that the latest version of Android is already on the market, expect this project to make its way also very soon. That said, let's start now this detailed article on Project Mainline. Also, do not forget to learn more about Android security patches and should we care?

What is the Mainline project?

Project Mainline is the latest project from Google that will allow it to provide very fast updates to the core components of Android. But this update will not come in the form of OTA or system updates, but these updates can be directly downloaded and installed from the Play Store. This will allow your device to receive critical updates from Android much faster.

The reason is that mobile manufacturers no longer need intermediaries. Previously, Google released important software updates and device manufacturers took it to optimize it based on device specifications. But now, Google will make these updates available to all, which will allow manufacturers to step back. Google adds that

"With this approach, we can deliver selected AOSP components faster and longer without the need for a complete update of the OTA from your phone manufacturer."

We could only imagine that the Treble project, introduced by Google alongside Android Oreo, really laid the foundation for the Mainline project. Now that the Mainline project is moving forward, let's take a look at all kinds of updates it can provide.

Components of the main project line

PM components

The Mainline project currently has 12 main components. All of these 12 previous components must be updated via a system update. But now, they could easily be updated from Play Store. In addition, these 12 components have been divided into three categories by Google. They are:

  • Security: Media Codecs, Media Framework Components, DNS Resolver, Conscrypt
  • Privacy: UI Documents, Permission Controller, ExtServices
  • Consistency: Time zone data, ANGLE (developer option), module metadata, network components, captive portal connection, configuration of network permissions.

How will the Mainline project work?

As mentioned earlier, Project Mainline brings Android updates to major components through the Play Store. But these updates will not be in the form of Android Package (APK). These updates will instead take the form of a new file format called MOUNTAIN PEAK, an acronym for Android Pony EXpress. Once downloaded to your device, these files will be decompressed into a system image (.img). This image file will be mounted on your device.

The files and data containing will be transferred from the APEX file to the system partition of your device. Finally, the image will be dismounted and then removed from your device. In addition, the APEX file system will always be loaded when you start your device. Therefore, it is necessary to restart your device after installing this package.

Will it be as stable as system updates?

Although there may be problems during the initial phases of the Mainline project, Google is sure to minimize it as much as possible. And he has put in place various backup mechanisms for the same thing. These APEXs would be released as a phased rollout, meaning that not everyone would receive the updates at the same time. As a result, if bugs appear, users who receive the update will report it to Google. Subsequently, it will stop the update until the bugs are removed.

However, if you belong to those unlucky ones who have had this buggy update, there is also a solution to this problem. Your device's system will only restore the backup it created before installing the APEX package. The least we can say is that Google is doing quite a commendable job.

In addition, from time to time, an error may appear in the Play Store. This can cause problems when installing updates provided by Project Mainline. Fortunately for you, we have covered a detailed guide on how to fix Google Play Store errors. Do not forget to check if you encounter an error while installing the main updates, which are part of the Mainline project.

Who will be excluded from this project?

Since Google publishes these updates through the Play Store, devices with Google Mobile Services (GMS) will only be able to get these updates. Thus, among Chinese OEMs, including Huawei, will not be able to get hold of Project Mainline.

So what do you think of this latest Google project? Would you have always preferred the direct method of OTA or is it a useful method for publishing updates? Let us know your views in the comments section below.

Read more: How to report malicious Android apps

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